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Federal suit claims Wells Fargo retaliation for whistleblowing

Wells Fargo has been making headlines recently with news of its scandal involving fake bank accounts. Now, a former branch manager has filed a federal lawsuit against the company as well. The California woman claims that she was fired as retaliation for coming forward with her knowledge of the bank's illegal tactics against its consumers.

In December, the former branch manager of 14 years filed a suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. It had been reported the previous year that the woman was fired for her statements claiming that Wells Fargo had engaged in deceptive and fraudulent practices. This suit claims retaliation and wrongful termination, alleging that after she came forward to report the illegal activity, her supervisor began harassing her.

While Wells Fargo has responded to the allegations with claims that it does not tolerate workplace harassment, it as reported that employers are in fact becoming more aggressive about fighting claims regarding whistleblower retaliation. It has been suggested that when these whistleblowers have knowledge of material that the company considers confidential, employers allegedly try to go after them. One source noted that whistleblowers are important for protecting consumers and should, in turn, be protected themselves. Unfortunately, California law does not have an outright ban on abusive conduct in the workplace.

However, in 2015, the governor of California did sign into law requirements that employers with more than 50 employees provide training to prevent abuse. Clearly, more must be done, and steps should be taken to address harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Those who have experienced wrongful termination for whistleblowing activities have important rights to be protected, and they may benefit from contacting an employment law attorney to explore their legal options.

Source: norcalrecord.com, "Wells Fargo faces whistleblower lawsuit", Richard Jones, Jan. 11, 2017

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