By: Paige Nielsen
Wells Fargo recently underwent a major scandal involving false accounts. Yet, employees claim that when people tried to speak up about the issue, they were let go. What really happened, and has this happened in the past?
Wells Fargo recently underwent a major scandal in which many employees fabricated false accounts in order to reach sales goals, and, shockingly, there have been relatively few consequences. However, nearly 5,300 employees that refused to succumb to this illegal activity and even called the ethics line to report the illicit activity, were the ones ultimately fired, despite the insured protections for whistleblowers as established by Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. Contrarily, Wells Fargo has denied that employees spoke up, defending that the company has a policy in place to protect whistleblowers in these situations. Yet, testimonies of former employees would suggest the opposite, as they claim that employees who dared to refuse to participate or who spoke out were terminated in retaliation.
This situation feels all too familiar to some because of its evident connections to the Industrial Revolution and its similar lack of workers’ outlets to appeal. In regard to the historical parallels, Dr. Lyon, the Upper School U.S. history teacher, indicated that the root problem is that “it’s the duty of the worker to litigate these whistleblower cases.” In other words, those doing the whistleblowing are responsible for advocating for themselves and taking up the case against their employers. Dr. Lyon also notes that the managements of corporations still have control over the regulations they implement and often work diligently to keep scenarios similar to the Wells Fargo scandal out of the public eye. As Dr. Lyon explains, “there will always be that tension over who has control in these types of issues,” because if the boundaries are not drawn it can be difficult to litigate. Whether the Wells Fargo incident is a recurring issue or a beast of its own, it has caused many people to question the true protection given to Whistleblowers in companies across America.