Banking giant, under fire in recent years for fake accounts scandal and now facing a unionization fight, allegedly understaffs branches and forces salaried employees to work long days covering responsibilities that are overtime eligible.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A New Mexico-based Wells Fargo employee has accused the financial services company of misclassifying her and potentially hundreds of current and former employees nationwide as ineligible for overtime. Sabrina Perez has worked at Wells Fargo for 10 years, and since July has worked as a Senior Premier Banker. She alleges that the primary duties of her position consist of work that is not exempt from overtime pay under federal and New Mexico state laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Senior Premier Bankers at Wells Fargo handle routine banking transactions, monitor the accounts of the bank’s high-net-worth clients, and refer those clients to financial advisors and other Wells Fargo employees. Senior Premier Bankers’ primary job responsibilities consist of work that is otherwise overtime-eligible, including handling routine transactions such as opening and closing savings and checking accounts, approving large wire transfers, balancing the bank vault, doing work normally done by tellers, inputting loan applications for personal and small businesses, and reviewing clients’ accounts for cues to refer them to Wells Fargo’s financial advisors.
“I believe it’s incredibly unfair that Senior Premier Bankers are excluded from overtime despite the similar responsibilities shared with other roles. I feel like Wells Fargo is taking advantage of us by not paying overtime for that work, and it feels draining. I believe all Wells Fargo workers deserve to be paid fairly,” said Sabrina Perez, a Senior Premier Banker at Wells Fargo who has been with the company since 2013.
Discretion is a key marker for salaried positions under the Fair Labor Standards Act. But the complaint alleges that Wells Fargo requires Senior Premier Bankers to use automated software tools in their jobs, restricting any discretion or independent judgment they might otherwise exercise. For example, they must use software that presents a series of questions they must ask customers regarding their needs. Based on the customer’s responses, the software then presents a list of product options which the Senior Premier Banker must offer the customer. They are not allowed to recommend one product from the list over another product.
The complaint also alleges that the lack of overtime is made worse by Wells Fargo’s systematic understaffing, which forces Ms. Perez and other Senior Premier Bankers to consistently work more than 40 hours per week as they cover the responsibilities of non-exempt positions, like
Tellers and Personal Bankers. According to the complaint, Wells Fargo did not keep an accurate record of the hours Mr. Perez and other Senior Premier Bankers worked.
“Our client alleges that Wells Fargo has consistently required workers like her to do work that doesn’t include the kind of decision-making that would be exempt from overtime” said Michael Scimone, partner at Outten & Golden. “Companies like Wells Fargo should know better than to withhold overtime pay from workers like Ms. Perez, and we are eager to try to help her and other Senior Premier Bankers.”
The collective action has been filed in the Northern District of California as Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Ms. Perez is represented by Michael Scimone and Kaelyn Mahar of Outten & Golden, LLP.