Big, Bad, Bully Bankers

Photo by Mike Mozart on the Flickr Commons.

Wells Fargo Falls into the Bully's Trap and coerces its employees into committing fraud

Banks are not very popular these days, nor have they been for some time. But a new story coming out of Los Angeles will really make you rethink your next interaction at your local bank.

As the Los Angeles Times is reporting, the City of L.A is actually taking Wells Fargo to court over the predatory sales tactics and fraudulent practices the bank forced upon its employees.

The bankers were allegedly under such pressure to open new accounts and credit cards that they would do so without a customer’s approval, including forging their signature. This would stick unwitting customers with all sorts of service charges. It is even alleged the employees would raid customers’ accounts for money so that they could open more accounts to meet their strict quotas.

Profit-driven harassment

The lawsuit alleges the following: “The result is that Wells Fargo has generated a virtual fee-generating machine, through which its customers are harmed, its employees take the blame, and Wells Fargo reaps the profit.”

Many people scoff at the idea that bullying is bad for business. There is this pervasive attitude in business, especially sales that says: “If putting pressure on my employees leads to better results, then I will put as much pressure on them as I see fit.”

But look where bullying your own employees and creating a dictatorial, valueless work culture gets you: sued, bad press and a whole lot of angry customers. You simply cannot put short-term business targets ahead of the well-being of your employees.

According to MoneyTalk News, the lawsuit actually seeks penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation and restitution for victims of the scheme. Even for a bank as big as Wells Fargo, that isn’t pennies. The the cost of this scheme in brand reputation will probably cost even more.

Forced to work outside one’s own values

What’s worse is that, according to the suit, this deplorable behaviour was forced on the employees. They were forced to chose between committing fraud or whether or not they would make rent.

As reported by the L.A Times, a former Wells Fargo employee by the name of Siham El-Dahan was subject to the following behaviour by the bank.

“El-Dahan said she sought help from the bank's human-relations department beginning in September. She said her managers played favourites, denied employees' breaks that are required by law and regularly threatened employees about meeting sales quotas… She believes she was fired in retaliation for speaking out,” read the L.A Times.

Now Wells Fargo, who is reportedly worth $284 billion, isn’t taking this lying down.

“Wells Fargo's culture is focused on the best interests of its customers and creating a supportive, caring and ethical environment for our team members,” the bank said in a statement. “This includes training, audits and processes that work together to support our Vision & Values and our commitment to customers receiving only the products and services they need and will benefit from.”

But if the media reports are true, it’s pretty safe to say that this bank is at the very least morally bankrupt.