Last month, we posted a story about a Wells Fargo Bank employee, Richard Eggers, who was terminated from their position as a mortgage customer service rep for a crime a minor theft crime that was committed in 1963. The bank’s hands were tied because Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) guidelines dictate that people that have been convicted of crimes involving theft, deception or dishonesty are not eligible for employment. If the bank would have retained this gentlemen, they could have faced criminal charges and millions of dollars in fines.
The employee filed a lawsuit against the bank, the FDIC and the background screening company that performed the employment background check. Today, we learned that the FDIC granted a waiver to Eggers clearing the way for him to be employed by Wells Fargo, or any other financial institution.
I think this is great news and I hope that Wells Fargo rehires him.
The vultures are clearly circling here.
Here’s what I don’t like. Eggers’ attorneys are setting the stage for a class action lawsuit against the FDIC, the bank and the company that performed the employment background check. A document filed by Eggers’ attorney with the Iowa state Civil Right Commission included the following passage:
“This complaint is intended to place Wells Fargo, First Advantage, and the FDIC on notice of class-wide intentional and unintentional forms of systemic discrimination affecting protected classes of applicants and employees who are adversely affected by the above-mentioned background check policy,”
Sorry, but I smell a rat. First, the bank did nothing wrong by following the FDIC’s guidelines. None of us like the fact that Eggers was terminated, but if we faced similar repercussions we’d all do the same thing. If the bank chooses not to hire him back due to the conviction, then they have a problem on their hands. But I highly doubt they would do that. From the background screening company’s standpoint, they simply reported the information they found. It was accurate and it was legally reportable. And, they had nothing to do with the hiring decision. How could they possibly be held accountable for doing their job?
If anyone bears responsibility here, it’s the FDIC, but even they have corrected their actions by granting the waiver. However, they too have a responsibility to protect consumers. They may have done so too broadly and my guess is that they will make these waivers a little easier to obtain in the future.
Last thought, and I’ll thank Angela Bosworth for the assist on this one, but who would be the protected class on this one? Eggers isn’t a minority. If anything, they could claim age discrimination. How many older people have been denied employment by the bank because they had a similar criminal record?