Wells Fargo Faces Overtime Pay Class Action

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By Kevin McGowan

Oct. 18 — Wells Fargo & Co. violated federal and state wage laws when it forced some branch employees to work during one-hour lunch breaks and to report fewer hours than they actually worked, according to a class lawsuit filed in federal district court in New Jersey ( Mirza v. Wells Fargo, N.A. , D.N.J., No. 16-7381, complaint filed 10/17/16 ).

The banking giant is on the hot seat after Congress investigated its firing of more than 5,000 employees who allegedly were pressured to create sham accounts for customers. CEO John Stumpf resigned in the aftermath, and the Labor Department is closely scrutinizing Wells Fargo’s employment practices, including its wage and hour policies.

Plaintiff Hirra Mirza will ask the court to certify a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action and a class action on New Jersey state law claims. “It’s a shame that with all the allegations about Wells Fargo’s treatment of customers, they mistreat their employees as well,” said Jason T. Brown of JTB Law Group LLC in Jersey City, N.J., who represents Mirza.

Prior to discovery in the court action, there’s no estimate yet on how many bank employees might be covered or the potential damages amount, Brown told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 18.

Wells Fargo didn’t respond Oct. 18 to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 17, alleges that personal bankers and customer service representatives in all of Wells Fargo’s New Jersey branches were required to record one-hour lunch breaks even though the breaks usually lasted only 10 to 30 minutes.

Wells Fargo also required the employees to record work hours that were inconsistent with the time actually worked, the complaint alleges.

Mirza and other employees therefore were deprived of “entitled regular wages” for hours below 40 a week as well as the required overtime rate for hours that exceeded 40 a week, according to the complaint. Wells Fargo should be assessed liquidated or double damages for willfully violating the FLSA and additional amounts under state law, the complaint alleges. Mirza also seeks injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees for the purported class. Nicholas Conlon of JTB Law Group also represents Mirza. No attorney has entered an appearance yet for Wells Fargo.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin McGowan in Washington at kmcgowan@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

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