Bankers Say Wells Fargo Doesn't Shoot Straight (August 11, 2010)
OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Wells Fargo's "unreasonably aggressive and ambitious marketing goals" encourage employees to open fraudulent accounts, falsify bank records, and dupe elderly customers into buying financial products they don't need, a "personal banker" and a former personal banker claim in Federal Court.
"Personal bankers" Yesenia Guitron and Judi Klosek claim that Well Fargo's "Daily Solution reward system," which sets quotas for how much "bank activity" each banker must generate each day, created an ethically challenged atmosphere at the bank's St. Helena branch, allowing the manager to harass and discriminate against those who complained.
Klosek still works for Wells Fargo; Guitron was fired in January.
The two women claim that "at various times during 2009 [they] made complaints to Well Fargo on fraudulent and unlawful practices at the St. Helena branch that included: opening checking, savings, money market, or credit card accounts for customers without their knowledge or consent; providing false information on applications for banking products; unlawfully opening accounts over the phone; soliciting elderly or otherwise vulnerable customers to open accounts or take out additional equity lines of credit despite the customers' lack of understanding; opening accounts for customers who lacked the language or cognitive capacity to understand the effects; falsifying bank records in order to open bank accounts and generate bones-driven bank activity; making false promises to customers, such as that accounts are 'free' to entice them to buy and obtain more financial and banking products."
Guitron and Klosek claim that branch manager Pam Rubio encouraged the unethical and illegal behavior, and when they questioned it she disparaged their work and harassed them. Rubio is named as a defendant, along with the bank.
Guitron and Klosek say their complaints to the Wells Fargo ethics hotline and other managers were ignored or discouraged.
"Wells Fargo set forth unreasonably aggressive and ambitious marketing goals to its employees and managers through the Daily Solution reward system," the complaint states. "Consequently, the Daily Solution reward system fosters employees and managers at Wells Fargo to artificially increase bank activity and sell financial products to customers regardless of the need of those and products and in breach of ethical and statutory duties owed by Wells Fargo to its customers. Further, the implementation of the Daily Solution reward system by Wells Fargo also encourages its employees and managers to retaliate and harass employees that complain of those activities or discipline employees that refuse to engage in those activities for not meeting marketing goals."
Guitron says she was fired after a campaign of harassment and discrimination from Rubio and other managers. Klosek says she is on sick leave after suffering stress-related chest pains.
Both women seek punitive damages for harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, and Guitron claims wrongful discharge. They are represented by Yosef Peretz of San Francisco.