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Wells Fargo whistleblower sues to enforce DOL reinstatement order

A whistleblower who worked for Wells Fargo has filed suit to enforce a Department of Labor order requiring the company to reinstate him to his former job, after the agency found the employer had retaliated against him for reporting that a co-worker was steering customers from CDs and savings accounts to unsuitable mutual funds.

Daniel Fisher, a former employee at Wells Fargo's Cupertino, California branch, filed a whistleblower claim, alleging Wells Fargo violated Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated the claim and, on November 26, 2008, found Wells Fargo violated the Act, ordering the company to reinstate Fisher to his former position. OSHA also ordered Wells Fargo to pay compensatory damages and post a notice to employees in a conspicuous place committing not to engage in further retaliation.

According to attorneys for Fisher, Wells Fargo is refusing to comply. Therefore, Fisher filed the instant lawsuit in the Northern District of California to enforce the reinstatement order. Fisher's SOX case is pending in the Office of Administrative Law Judges at the United States Department of Labor.

"In light of recent scandals in the financial services industry, Wells Fargo's retaliation against Fisher is especially troubling because he was trying to protect customers who were being steered to unsuitable investments by a financial advisor eager to generate fees. Instead of commending Mr. Fisher's efforts to protect Wells Fargo customers, Wells Fargo punished him and launched a smear campaign against him, thereby damaging his relationships with customers and his reputation," said Fisher's attorneys, R. Scott Oswald and Jason Zuckerman, of The Employment Law Group law firm in Washington, DC. "We commend Mr. Fisher's courageous whistleblowing and look forward to a trial in this matter to obtain all remedies available to compensate Mr. Fisher for the substantial damages he has suffered."

SOX, also known as the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act, was enacted on July 30, 2002. With the enactment of SOX, Congress provided statutory protection for employees who report corporate fraud to ensure that employees have an effective means of making such reports without fear of employer retaliation.

For more information on this and other topics, consult CCH Employment Practices Guide or CCH Labor Relations.

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