As Trump takes office, Wells Fargo
website to aid employees vanishes
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[January 27, 2017]
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After President
Donald Trump took office, the U.S. Department of Labor quietly removed a
special website it created as a resource for current and former Wells
Fargo employees on workplace issues, including whistleblower retaliation
complaints, according to a U.S. lawmaker.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, sent a letter on Friday to acting
Labor Secretary Edward Hugler after discovering on Tuesday that the
site, www.dol.gov/wellsfargo, read: "Page not found."
It is one of a growing number of web pages that have been removed since
Trump became president. His administration also instructed the
Environmental Protection Agency to remove pages on climate change.
Former Labor Department Secretary Thomas Perez created the special
website last September, shortly after Wells Fargo was ordered to pay
$190 million in fines and customer restitution after its high-pressure
sales environment led to the opening of as many as 2 million accounts
that customers may not have authorized.
Some of the bank's employees filed whistleblower complaints with the
Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, saying
they had been fired for reporting the gaming by Wells Fargo, while
others complained that they were forced to work late to meet sales
"Taking down this website enables Wells Fargo to escape full
responsibility for its fraudulent actions and the department to shirk
its outstanding obligations to American workers," wrote Warren, who is a
member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions,
which oversees the Labor Department.
When he launched the site, Perez pledged to Warren he would conduct a
top-to-bottom review of all the Wells Fargo complaints the department
had received to see how they were handled.
The website also offered assistance on issues including proper pay for
employees and workplace discrimination.
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U.S. President Donald Trump walks through the Colonnade to the Oval
Office after returning to the White House in Washington, U.S.,
January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
Reuters previously reported multiple problems with some of the
whistleblower cases, including one involving a former Wells Fargo
employee who waited nearly five years to be interviewed after
telling OSHA she was fired for reporting the gaming.
On Friday Warren asked for an update on the department's review.
The findings have not been made public, but a person familiar with
the review said that OSHA's San Francisco office, which handled the
bulk of the Wells Fargo complaints, faced a particularly high case
load to staff ratio.
The review also found that OSHA does not have an effective case
management system to track what is going on in the field, the person
Warren's concerns could become an issue on Feb. 7, when fast-food
executive Andrew Puzder is expected to appear for his confirmation
hearing to become the next labor secretary.
Puzder is already facing a backlash by some of his own workers at
CKE Restaurants, who allege they are victims of wage theft.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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