Hensarling Probes CFPB on Employee Complaints, Evaluations

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WASHINGTON — House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling and two other GOP lawmakers are probing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over how it treats its employees. 

The lawmakers seized on an article by American Banker that revealed data showing that the agency’s white employees had a greater likelihood of receiving the highest rating in performance evaluations — which determine salary increases and bonuses — than minorities.

In a letter sent late Thursday to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, the three lawmakers said the article "raises significant concerns" about the agency’s "internal management practices. Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.,  and Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., also signed the letter.

The letter asks the CFPB to respond to the number of formal discrimination claims filed by employees, based on the agency’s most recent No Fear Act disclosure, as well as its recent annual employee survey.

The 2013 survey "revealed that fewer than half of Bureau employees are satisfied with the policies and practices of senior leaders, that fewer than half of bureau employees agree that promotions and pay raises at the bureau are based on merit, and that fewer than 3-in-5 bureau employees agree that in their most recent performance appraisals, they understood what they had to do to be rated at different performance levels," the letter states.

The letter requests that the CFPB provide data on the demographic breakdown of employee performance reviews including by office, division, employee count and those that have been raised or lowered as part of the performance review. The lawmakers are also asking for information on the formal and informal Equal Employment Opportunity cases filed by employees as well as grievances filed by members of the union. 

The CFPB told American Banker that 115 formal grievances have been filed with the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) in the past six months but unofficial complaints that haven't yet worked their way through the system exceed 200, according to information obtained by American Banker.

CFPB spokesman Sam Gilford told American Banker that the agency is analyzing the performance evaluation data and it could change "depending on the outcome of pending reviews and appeals."

"The CFPB is committed to fairness and equity in the workplace as well as the marketplace," Gilford said. "Just as we often remind lenders that strong compliance management systems are critical to ensure compliance with consumer protection laws, the bureau has taken a compliance management approach in monitoring and evaluating its own performance rating process."

Lawmakers have given the CFPB until March 13 to respond.

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