Wells Fargo settles allegations of discriminating against female, African American job applicants

A federal investigation found that Wells Fargo discriminated against thousands of African American and female job applicants based on their race and/or gender, the Department of Labor said this week.

The Labor Department announced this week that it reached a
settlement with Wells Fargo over allegations of discrimination within bank’s
hiring practices at locations in Arizona, Virginia, and Utah.

According to the Labor Department’s Office of Contract Compliance Program, an investigation found that in 2014, Wells Fargo’s Phone Bank Premier, Home Equity & Online Customer Service unit discriminated against 2,066 female applicants for positions as online customer service representatives in Glen Allen, Virginia, and Salt Lake City.

Additionally, the investigation found that Wells Fargo discriminated against 282 African American applicants for phone banker positions in Phoenix.

In doing so, Wells Fargo failed to comply with Executive
Order 11246, which prohibits race and sex discrimination by federal
contractors, the Labor Department said.

As part of the settlement with the Labor Department, Wells
Fargo will pay $603,612 in back wages, interest and benefits to the affected
applicants, but does not admit liability in the matter.

Wells Fargo must also make job offers to 66 of the original
applicants (17 in Glen Allen, Virginia, 20 in Salt Lake City, and 29 in Phoenix)
as positions become available.

Beyond that, Wells Fargo must “review and revise its
selection process and provide better training to its hiring managers to
eliminate practices that resulted in the violations,” the Labor Department
said.

“Companies that accept federal contracts must monitor their
hiring processes to ensure applicants are not rejected based on unlawful
practices,” Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Regional Director
Michele Hodge added.

As the Labor Department noted, Wells Fargo did not admit liability
as part of the settlement. In fact, the bank “strongly disputes” the Labor
Department’s allegations.

“We are pleased to reach this agreement with the OFCCP.
While Wells Fargo strongly disputes the allegations, we believe that putting
this matter behind us is in the best interest of all of our stakeholders,” a Wells
Fargo spokesperson said in statement.

“The settlement relates to hiring practices that were in
place five years ago. We have made fundamental changes to our hiring practices
and processes to better identify successful employees and to ensure adherence
to equal employment opportunity laws,” the spokesperson continued. “We are
dedicated to recruitment and career development practices that support our team
members and promote diversity in our workforce at all levels of our company.
Wells Fargo values and promotes diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our
business.”

The settlement is the second legal issue for the bank in the
last few days.

Wells Fargo also recently revealed that it set aside $1.6 billion to cover the cost of another potential settlement over the bank’s fake account scandal.