Wells Fargo & Co. has reached a settlement with a former branch manager who claimed she was fired for blowing the whistle on employees who had been opening accounts without permission. The sales-pressure conduct at issue was a scandal that erupted in 2016. The settlement, finalized on Jan. 12, brought an end to Wells Fargo’s appeal of a U.S. Department of Labor order compelling the bank to reinstate the fired branch manager, Claudia Ponce de Leon, and pay her $577,500 in back wages, damages and legal fees. That decision came almost a year after Wells Fargo reached a $185 million settlement with federal regulators and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office resolving allegations over the widespread misconduct at the bank.
Wells Fargo and Ponce de Leon are to submit a copy of the settlement agreement by Feb. 9. The settlement has a confidentiality agreement.
Even though the Ponce de Leon matter is behind the bank, Wells Fargo has a wider whistleblower problem on its hands. In a regulatory filing last year, Wells Fargo said it is facing “multiple single Plaintiff Sarbanes-Oxley Act complaints and state law whistleblower actions filed with the Department of Labor or in various state courts alleging adverse employment actions for raising sales practice misconduct issues.”
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