I don't write about my own clients for obvious reasons. The recent news stories about retaliation against whistle-blowing Wells Fargo employees, however, caught my attention because they are so similar to the stories of the employees I represent.
Workers in this CNN video reported being required to meet unreasonable performance standards by Wells Fargo. These standards were not only unrealistic, the workers believed them to be unethical and quite possibly illegal.
According to another story, workers were pressured to open phony bank and credit accounts for new bank customers. Another article suggested they were also coerced to provide fake bank card PIN numbers and fictitious email accounts.
At the same time, the employees had to answer to multiple check-ins by supervisors many times a day, every day, as to their "success" in meeting the unreasonable standards.
Employees started getting sick. In the video, workers reported needing to take medical leave to attend to depression and an inability to leave the house.
These stories are real and are similar to a lot of the people who come to me for help, stuck in an impossible situation at work. Their bodies start to give out under pressure.
The articles also draw attention to those people who were fired after they reported the unethical behavior.
"They ruined my life," [ ] a former Wells Fargo banker in Pennsylvania, told CNNMoney.
[He] not only refused orders to open phony bank and credit accounts. The New Jersey man called an ethics hotline and sent an email to human resources in September 2013, flagging unethical sales activities he was being instructed to do.
Eight days after that email, a copy of which CNNMoney obtained, [he] was terminated. The stated reason? Tardiness.
Another employee reported, "I was bullied and retaliated against for reporting sales integrity issues." She was also fired.
Again, while I do not write about my own clients, I also understand how common this is.
If you are suffering at work due to unethical practices, it can help to speak with an employment lawyer about your options. It is often recommended to do so before filing an internal or external ethics complaint in order to think through the implications of the actions, including any potential for retaliation.
Doorways Employment Law is a virtual employment law practice, leveraging the power of technology to connect with clients in the most efficient, convenient and cost-effective way possible. It specializes in employment law counseling, strategic advice and representation to individuals and businesses across Massachusetts, including in discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower matters. Contact Doorways Employment Law for an employment law consultation.