The U.S. government ordered Wells Fargo to reinstate a former bank manager who was fired after reporting suspected illegal behavior to his superiors and a company hotline.
The manager, who wasn't identified, was dismissed in 2010 after reporting on incidents of suspected bank, mail and wire fraud by two bankers in the Los Angeles area, according to a statement Monday from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The San Francisco-based lender also was ordered to give the whistleblower about $5.4 million in back pay, compensatory damages and legal fees after OSHA determined his warnings were at least a contributing factor in the termination.
While the agency didn't elaborate on the alleged misconduct, regulators announced in September that Wells Fargo employees sought for years to meet aggressive sales targets by opening unauthorized accounts for customers. The scandal triggered investigations and congressional hearings, prompting the lender to shake up leadership, deny bonuses to executives, and fire some senior managers in the consumer business.
Mary Eshet, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, didn't have an immediate comment. The lender can appeal the measure, but that doesn't stay the preliminary order, according to the statement.
The whistleblower, who had previously received positive job performance reviews, was told he had 90 days to find a new job at Wells Fargo after reporting on the two bankers, according to the statement. He was fired after his search was unsuccessful and has been unable to find work in the banking industry since.