Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, is under fire after a whistleblower revealed that the company staged fake interviews for minority applicants for jobs that didn’t exist.
Joe Bruno, who was employed with Wells Fargo’s wealth management division at their corporate offices in Jacksonville, Florida, told the story to The New York Times claiming that he was fired last summer because he complained to his superiors that the sham interviews were “inappropriate, morally wrong, ethically wrong.”
Bruno and six other current and former employees say they were told to set up interviews for “diverse” candidates, although management had no intentions of actually hiring the individuals because the positions were already promised to someone else.
Bruno said he was fired after complaining about “fake interviews,” which would be held with “diverse” candidates
“The sham interviews were instead designed to make the bank appear as if it were striving to diversify its workforce so that it wouldn’t land in hot water with government regulators,” the New York Post writes.
Bruno and seven current and former bank employees claimed their bosses instructed them to interview “diverse” candidates despite the position not existing or already being filled.
The interviews were used to make Wells Fargo appear to be a corporation working hard to diversify its workforce. This kept them out of trouble with government regulators who track equality-based hiring. The sham interviews mainly affected Black female candidates.
Wells Fargo spokesperson, Raschelle Burton, said that the company does not tolerate “the behavior as described by The New York Times.”
This is not the first time Wells Fargo has been in the news regarding their discriminatory practices.
A 2021 Bloomberg News analysis reported that only 47% of the Black homeowners who applied for home refinancing in 2020 were approved by Wells Fargo as opposed to 72% of white homeowners.
They also approved more white applicants for new mortgage loans than Black applicants. The company is currently facing a class-action lawsuit in this matter.
In 2016, Wells Fargo disclosed that it would pay $185 million in penalties to regulators after an audit discovered that employees opened as many as two million deposit and credit accounts without customers’ consent.
For most Americans the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis was all too obvious with the economy imploding, jobs disappearing, and house prices collapsing but understanding the reason that was happening – the run on mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations (AKA, CDOs), credit default swaps, synthetic derivatives, tranches – was not so easy.
The complications and complexity of the problem made it all the more infuriating. It was a banking crisis that only the insiders could decode and ultimately it seems as if nobody was held accountable.
Bigotry and greed are now clearly the root causes of all those issues, as evidenced once again by Wells Fargo.