Posted Aug 30, 2012 12:35 pm CDT
Fearful of $1 million-a-day fines under new regulations, banks have fired thousands of employees, according to a California lawyer who has helped some of the workers regain their jobs.
New regulations adopted in May 2011 and in February bar banks from employing anyone convicted of a crime involving dishonesty, breach of trust or money laundering, the Des Moines Register reports. California lawyer Natasha Buchanan of Higbee & Associates told the publication that many workers are getting fired as a result. “Banks are afraid of the FDIC and the penalties they could face,” she said.
The new rules cover more employees and eliminate exceptions for expunged crimes and some minor offenses. Waivers are available, but banks usually apply only for executives and midlevel employees, Buchanan told the newspaper.
Among the employees who lost a job is 68-year-old Richard Eggers of Des Moines, who was fired from Wells Fargo because he put a cardboard cutout of a dime in a laundromat washing machine in 1963. “It was a stupid stunt and I’m not real proud of it, but to fire somebody for something like this after seven good years of employment is a dirty trick when you come right down to it,” Eggers told the Register. He had worked as a customer service representative making about $30,000 a year.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Angela Kaipust issued a statement confirming the firing to the Register. “We are operating in an environment where we’re facing new regulations and a heightened level of scrutiny on all our activities,” Kaipust said.
Eggers is seeking a waiver with the help of a Des Moines lawyer.
Updated on Sept. 2 to include the name of Buchanan’s law firm.