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California employee alleges wrongful termination for complaints

Employees are granted certain rights in regards to their employment with an organization. These protections allow employees to report perceived violations by their employer in good faith. Should the employer retaliate against a complaining employee, up to and including fining the employee, they may be subjected to significant financial penalties.

A former employee of Wells Fargo Bank in California recently brought a wrongful termination suit against the company. The employee's responsibilities included opening accounts and conducting transactions such as deposits and withdrawals. However, she claims that she was also asked to conduct "gaming" on accounts. Gaming includes opening accounts without notifying customers, waiving fees inappropriately, increasing income amounts on applications and inaccurately portraying offered products. She claims that she notified the branch manager and the company's compliance hotline that she refused to engage in such practices, but was retaliated against upon doing so. She alleges that the bank eventually fired her as a result of her complaints.

Employees that are terminated by their organization for an unlawful reason may have a claim for wrongful termination. A termination is considered wrongful when it is done for discriminatory purposes, as a type of sexual harassment, or as retaliation for the employee filing a complaint against the employer, among other reasons. If the employee can prove that their termination was wrongful, their former employer may be subject to financial penalties. These penalties can be statutory in nature, wage-based, or even punitive if the employer's conduct was egregious enough to necessitate such damages.

Employees, although often in at-will employment situations, have the right to not be terminated for illegal reasons. If an employer has violated this right, the former employee is entitled to bring an action against the employer to receive compensation for the violation.

Source: Virtual-Strategy Magazine, "Whistleblower Sues Wells Fargo Bank Alleging Wrongful Termination," Nov. 25, 2014

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