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Former Colorado bank employee fired for whistle-blowing

A former Wells Fargo Bank employee in Colorado is in the midst of a widely publicized wrongful termination lawsuit. The woman says that she was hired as a mortgage fraud analyst, yet when she began noticing mortgage fraud, the bank fired her.

In the lawsuit, the woman said that bank officials chastised her for reporting that sales employees were writing up fake borrower incomes and other made-up numbers in order to finalize mortgage deals. Bank officials reportedly told the woman that she didn't "see the big picture" and that it wasn't her job to repair the entire corporation. Further, the woman says that she was told to cease from calling the bank's ethics hotline. She was eventually forced out of her position.

Further reports indicate that this woman was far from alone in being fired or otherwise punished for whistle-blowing during the time when banks were giving out excessive home loans. Reportedly, a watchdog group has identified 20 financial institutions that demoted or fired a total of 63 former employees for refusing to commit fraud or for reporting it.

Advocates for whistleblowers say that this kind of silencing of employees was instrumental in allowing the corruption that brought about the current mortgage crisis. Additionally, whistleblower advocates blame weak state and federal laws at the time for essentially helping to keep employees silent while corruption ensued.

As in the case of the former Wells Fargo employee here in Colorado, the bank denies any wrongdoing. "We have a strict code of ethics and a no-retaliation policy," claimed a bank spokesperson.

Denver residents who are also considering filing a wrongful termination case would do well to look into every available option. New Colorado and federal laws offer increased protection for workers, and anyone engaged in employment litigation should be aware of all the relevant policies. In the workplace, whistle-blowing in the face of corruption should be awarded and not punished, and seeking the help of a skilled and sympathetic Colorado attorney can help make that demand a reality.

Source: truth-out.org, "Whistleblowers Ignored, Punished by Lenders, Say Dozens of Former Employees," Nov. 22, 2011

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