Senators seek Labor Department probe of Wells Fargo

Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:05pm EDT
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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eight U.S. Democratic senators asked the Labor Department on Thursday to launch a probe into whether Wells Fargo (WFC.N: Quote) may have violated wage and working hour laws by failing to pay overtime to tellers and sales representatives who stayed late to meet sales quotas.

The request comes after Wells Fargo earlier this month was ordered to pay $190 million to settle civil charges alleging its employees had set up about 2 million accounts and credit cards in customers' names that may have not been authorized.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleged in its complaint that Wells Fargo had a system in place which financially rewarded employees for each new account opened.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said the bank strived to make all employees "feel valued, rewarded and recognized" in an environment that includes "market competitive compensation, career-development opportunities, a broad array of benefits, and a strong offering of work-life programs."

A spokesman for the Labor Department said the department cannot discuss details of law enforcement decision-making, but that it takes "the concerns raised in the letter very seriously."

The bank is facing mounting scrutiny over the issue. Federal prosecutors have also launched a criminal investigation into the matter, a source previously told Reuters.

Earlier this week, lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee grilled Wells Fargo Chief Executive John Stumpf about the accounts, with some calling on him to resign and forfeit his earnings and hold other senior executives accountable.

In the letter to the Labor Department, the lawmakers expressed concerns about how the high-pressure sales culture at the bank could also give rise to violations of federal labor laws.   Continued...

A Wells Fargo branch is seen in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, U.S. on February 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo