Amidst the array of news reports that Wells Fargo encouraged its employees to open fraudulent and unauthorized accounts on behalf of countless customers, a former Wells Fargo employee recently filed a federal wrongful termination and whistleblower protection lawsuit against the big bank. The employee was allegedly fired for reporting to her supervisors illegal activity she observed while working at a branch of the company located in Windsor in Sonoma County. Her whistleblower actions were prompted after she had observed coworkers engaging in deceptive practices and improper sales and accounting activity. But rather than having her reports taken seriously, she was harassed in the workplace by her supervisors and ultimately fired.
Understanding the Wells Fargo Lawsuit
The plaintiff, Diana Duenas-Brown, who had worked at Wells Fargo for fourteen years and was a branch manager for eleven years with the company prior to the incident, reported what she believed to be misconduct and fraud in the workplace to her supervisors. Duenas-Brown reported at least 25 instances of improper sales and account activity by fellow employees during the period between 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, but her supervisors did nothing to stop it.
Duenas-Brown reports were factual and based on truth, as reflected by recent developments. Wells Fargo is currently under investigation by several agencies and regulatory authorities, and the bank has been fined more than $185 million for creating millions of unauthorized accounts for bank customers without their permission.
Duenas-Brown Was Retaliated Against for Being a Law-Abiding Employee
Shortly after making her reports at work, Duenas-Brown alleges that she began to experience instances of unwarranted disciplined, poor performance evaluations, interrogation, harassment, demotion, a job transfer, denied wage increases, and wage reductions. All instances culminated in her wrongful termination as the consequence of her whistleblowing activities. Duenas-Brown alleges that she was retaliated and discriminated against by her employers, and forced into a hostile work environment. Duenas-Brown suffered financial losses, loss of advancement opportunities, and loss of employment benefits as a result of Wells Fargo's mistreatment of her as an employee and Wells Fargo's retaliatory termination of her employment.
California Employment Law Protects Employees from Whistleblower Retaliation
California employment law protects California employees from whistleblower retaliation, wrongful termination, and workplace harassment, such as verbal abuse, physical abuse and derogatory remarks. The law also prohibits employers from enacting rules or policies against employees engaging in whistleblower activity, and makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who is a whistleblower. Similarly, employers are not permitted to retaliate against employees who refuse to engage in specific activities or business practices that the employee believes to be in violation of the law. Employees have the right to act as whistleblowers in California and state law protects these brave workers. Employers have no right to retaliate against employees who choose to exercise their whistleblower rights.
If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated or harassed by your employer after engaging in whistleblower activities, contact one of our experienced California employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation today.