Two former Wells Fargo employees in California allege they were fired because they refused to break the law and have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking $2.6 billion in damages against the bank.  The lawsuit seeks to represent all the bank’s employees in the past 10 years who were penalized for not making sales quotas.

This case comes just after Wells Fargo settled with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this month over allegations of widespread illegal activities.  Wells Fargo was fined $185 million dollars after thousands of employees opened as many as 2 million fake bank accounts without customer approval.  Wells Fargo refunded $2.6 million dollars to customers who were charged fees on these accounts.  The bank also fired 5,300 employees who participated in the fraud.

You might ask why so many Wells Fargo employees would be willing to participate in illegal activity?  I suggest you look at how their supervisors were paid.  My guess is that the bonuses for upper level managers were tied to how much “cross selling” occurred by lower level employees; i.e. how many accounts were opened.  I would also guess there was a tremendous amount of pressure placed on employees to open these accounts or risk their jobs.

But what about the Wells Fargo employees who refused to open fake accounts?  According to this lawsuit, many of them were fired.  In fact, the lawsuit alleges that “thousands” of employees may have been fired for refusing to break the law. 

Here in Charlotte, NC, Wells Fargo is one of our largest employers.  If you worked for Wells Fargo and were disciplined or fired for refusing to open unauthorized bank accounts, I would like to hear from you.  You may have a claim for damages.