An employee of Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) has initiated legal action against the bank, alleging that it deprived hundreds of workers at its branches in the United States of overtime pay. This litigation arises at a critical time for the financial institution, which is facing an unprecedented campaign to unionize its workforce.
The class-action lawsuit, filed in the federal court of San Francisco, argues that Wells Fargo incorrectly classified “senior premier bankers” as exempt from overtime pay under federal and state laws.
It is asserted that these bankers, responsible for customer service, transactions, and providing referrals to financial advisors, work unpaid overtime hours, due to the chronic understaffing at Wells Fargo branches.
Sabrina Perez, an employee at a Wells Fargo branch in Albuquerque, New Mexico, initiated the lawsuit against Wells Fargo. It is noteworthy that workers at this branch recently filed a petition for a union election. Perez, a staunch advocate for unionization, has been quoted in union press releases and news articles.
Michael Scimone, Perez’s lawyer, emphasized that Wells Fargo consistently classified workers as exempt from overtime pay despite lacking managerial roles and decision-making authority. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, penalties, and legal costs.
Attorneys representing Perez suggest that the proposed class of senior premier bankers nationwide could include hundreds of individuals. This lawsuit coincides with a significant milestone for Wells Fargo, as workers in Albuquerque and another branch in Alaska have recently sought union elections.
These events mark the first unionization efforts within Wells Fargo and the first in any major U.S. bank in decades. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 1% of workers in the financial industry are currently members of a union.
So far, Wells Fargo has not provided an immediate response to the lawsuit. The bank has emphasized its commitment to supporting employees, citing recent improvements in wages and benefits. Wells Fargo also highlights its preference for maintaining a “direct connection” with workers.
The outcome of this lawsuit and simultaneous unionization efforts will undoubtedly have significant implications for Wells Fargo’s workforce and could influence the labor dynamics within the financial industry at large.