Company Unlawfully Fired Native Spanish Speaker Because She Complained About Language Issues, Federal Agency Charged
MINNEAPOLIS – Wells Fargo & Company has agreed to pay $295,000 to resolve a discrimination charge filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. A finding by the EEOC determined that Wells Fargo disciplined and terminated a Minneapolis Wells Fargo employee in retaliation for complaining of differential treatment based on her race and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The EEOC’s investigation revealed that the employee reported to the Wells Fargo human resources department that she was being subjected to differential treatment and that her supervisor told her not to speak Spanish during her non-duty time. Shortly thereafter, the EEOC found, Wells Fargo initiated discipline and ultimately terminated the employee for practices other employees regularly engaged in without discipline.
In addition to the monetary relief, the conciliation agreement requires Wells Fargo to conduct four hours of annual training for all managers and supervisors in the personal insurance business division where the employee worked. The training, which may be observed by the EEOC, will encompass the federal and state laws that prohibit employment discrimination, with special consideration given to anti-retaliation provisions and requirements to speak only English at work that violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In addition, Wells Fargo will distribute to all employees annually an electronic mail message affirming its commitment to diversity, multilingual ability and the use of languages other than English in the workplace. Wells Fargo will also report to the EEOC all allegations of discrimination or retaliation annually during the term of the three-year agreement.
“Unlawful acts of retaliation by employers will not be ignored by the EEOC,” said EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe.
“Employers need to take proactive steps to end retaliation at their workplace,” said Julie Schmid, acting director of the Minneapolis Area Office, where the charge was filed. “We are pleased that Wells Fargo chose to work with us to reach this conciliation agreement.”
The Minneapolis Area Office is part of the EEOC’s Chicago District. The Chicago District is responsible for investigating discrimination charges in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota.
The EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.