Wells Fargo faces lawsuit over alleged overtime violations amid unionisation push

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Wells Fargo & Co finds itself entangled in legal woes as an employee filed a lawsuit on Thursday, accusing the bank of denying overtime pay to hundreds of its U.S. branch workers.

According to Reuters, the proposed class action, filed in a San Francisco federal court, alleges that Wells Fargo misclassified “senior premier bankers” as exempt from overtime pay, a classification the lawsuit claims is improper under federal and state laws.

These bankers, responsible for customer service and generating referrals to financial advisers, often work unpaid overtime due to persistent understaffing in Wells Fargo branches, according to the lawsuit. Sabrina Perez, an advocate for unionising and a Wells Fargo employee in Albuquerque, New Mexico, initiated the lawsuit.

Michael Scimone, a lawyer representing Sabrina Perez, criticised Wells Fargo’s classification practices. “Companies like Wells Fargo should know better than to withhold overtime pay from workers like Ms. Perez,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, penalties, and legal costs, and Perez’s legal team suggests that the proposed class could encompass hundreds of senior premier bankers across the U.S. Wells Fargo, currently facing an unprecedented campaign to unionise its workforce, has not yet responded to the allegations.

This legal challenge adds to the bank’s recent struggles and controversies, including the push for union elections in Albuquerque and Alaska, marking the first such efforts within Wells Fargo in decades.

The lawsuit sheds light on the broader issue of overtime pay and worker rights at Wells Fargo, where understaffing has allegedly led to senior premier bankers working unpaid overtime hours. The legal action coincides with the recent move by workers in Albuquerque, spearheaded by Sabrina Perez, to file a petition for a union election—a rare occurrence for Wells Fargo and a significant development in the broader context of unionisation within the U.S. financial industry.

The campaign for unionisation aims to address workers’ concerns and negotiate better working conditions. While Wells Fargo emphasises recent investments in employee support, including improvements to pay and benefits, the mounting legal and unionisation challenges indicate ongoing tensions between the bank and its workforce.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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