WASHINGTON A House subcommittee announced Tuesday that it has scheduled a meeting on May 21 to hear from three officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who were recently subpoenaed to testify on allegations of employee discrimination and retaliation at the agency.
The House Financial Services oversight and investigations subcommittee said it will hear from Stacey Bach, the CFPB's assistant director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity; Liza Strong, the agency's director of employee relations; and Ben Konop, executive vice president of the local chapter for the union.
The subcommittee unanimously approved the subpoenas April 29 after hearing from a whistleblower and independent investigator on such employee allegations during a hearing earlier that month. At the time, the CFPB declined to send named officials, arguing it would interfere with ongoing cases and jeopardize the credibility of the personnel grievance process.
"Regrettably, congressional subpoenas were necessary in order for the committee to get the answers it needs in this investigation," said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling in a press release. "In the coming months, the committee expects to hear from all those who can shed light on allegations of discrimination and retaliation. The bureau must be held accountable for any such reprehensible behavior."
The CFPB has previously offered to send Director Richard Cordray and the head of its Office of Minority and Women Inclusion to appear before the panel. But Republicans on the subcommittee instead prefer to hear from certain officials who they say are closer to the employees' complaints. The original hearing stemmed from an article in American Banker on March 6 that detailed racial disparities in employee evaluations and instances where employees claimed they were retaliated against, largely after filing a complaint.
"Through our ongoing investigation, it has become quite clear to the subcommittee that the three individuals who have been subpoenaed have the most knowledge of the disturbing treatment which women and minority employees are subjected to at the CFPB," said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., the subcommittee's chairman, in the press release.
During the business meeting to approve the subpoenas, Democrats amended them to include language recognizing that the CFPB and its union offered to send other officials to testify on the issue. They also added language that the subcommittee would look further into employee practices at other federal financial agencies.