Lost in the outrage over widespread fraud at Wells Fargo is the adverse impact the bank's pressure to open new accounts had on their employees. Just last week, the New York Times published stories from former bankers who were under so much stress to sell unneeded services that they suffered from anxiety, had panic attacks, and even became addicted to drinking hand sanitizer.
But a recent class action lawsuit details the unreasonable expectations Wells Fargo had of their employees, and the retaliation those employees faced if they failed to meet strict sales quotas. And some of those former employees are seeking $2.6 billion from the disgraced bank.
The trouble stemmed from Wells Fargo's requirement that representatives open 10 new accounts per day, lest they be subject to reprimands or even dismissal. The former employees claim that the only way to meet these requirements was to engage in fraud:
The biggest victims of Wells Fargo's scam [are] the class of victims that were fired because they did not meet these cross sell quotas by engaging in the fraudulent scam that would line the CEO's pockets ... Thousands of employees who failed to resort to illegal tactics were either demoted or fired as a result.
Those that refused to open unauthorized accounts or otherwise engage fraudulent behavior to meet quotas did not fare well:
Wells Fargo employees who did not engage in unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent conduct to meet quotas were all similarly, systematically, and routinely demoted, terminated, and made as an example of so that all other employees would learn that they must engage in these fraudulent actions in order to meet the unrealistic sales quotas or else lose their jobs.
The lawsuit was filed by two former employees, but seeks compensation for any and all Wells Fargo employees penalized for not meeting sales quotas over the past 10 years. In September, the bank fired over 5,000 employees for opening some two million accounts in customers' names without their authorization. The lawsuit claims Wells Fargo is punishing lower level employees for policies that came from, and were intended to benefit higher level executives: "Wells Fargo knew that their unreasonable quotas were driving these unethical behaviors that were used to fraudulently increase their stock price and benefit the CEO at the expense of the low-level employees."
You can read the full lawsuit for yourself: