April 3 (Reuters) - The federal government has ordered Wells Fargo to reinstate a former bank manager who lost his job after reporting suspected fraudulent behavior at the bank.
The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on Monday that the bank must rehire the employee, as well as pay back pay, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees totaling $5.4 million.
OSHA concluded that the manager was “abruptly” forced to leave a Los Angeles branch of the bank in 2010, after he told superiors he suspected two of his subordinates of bank, mail and wire fraud. The manager also called the bank’s ethics hotline. OSHA determined his whistleblowing was “at least a contributing factor in his termination.” The manager was not named.
The bank is planning to request a full hearing on the OSHA decision before the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. Such a step will not halt the initial reinstatement order.
“We are aware of OSHA’s preliminary order and take seriously the concerns of current and former team members. To date there has been no hearing on the merits in this case, and we will be requesting a full hearing of the matter,” said Vince Scanlon, a bank spokesman.
According to OSHA, the manager had previously received positive job performance appraisals, but in 2010 he was told he had 90 days to find a new job at the bank after being dismissed as a manager. He was unable to do so and was terminated, and has not found work in banking since.
The OSHA decision is unrelated to the bank’s woes surrounding the creation of potentially millions of fake accounts by employees looking to hit sales goals. In that case, the bank has also come under scrutiny over whether it punished whistleblowers that notified superiors of wrongdoing involving Wells Fargo employees. (Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Tom Brown)