Published On: Mon, Mar 26th, 2012

Wells Fargo Financial Michigan Settles EEOC Race and Age Discrimination Suit

Financial services company Wells Fargo Financial Michigan, Inc., has agreed to settle an age and race discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $55,000, the agency announced Friday.

The financial services company was formerly located in various cities in Michigan and previously employing at least 200 employees.

The EEOC’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, charged that Wells Fargo Financial failed to promote a highly qualified 47-year-old African-American loan processor on the basis of age and race.

The loan processor applied for a promotion in early 2008 and was passed over for five lesser qualified Caucasian women aged between 23 and 30 who were based in various other branch offices.

The loan processor had significantly more relevant work experience than the other candidates and the best combination of relevant, objective scores that measured productivity, the EEOC said.

Further, the loan processor was named “loan processor of the year” for 2007, the year immediately proceeding the promotion decision, worked at one of the largest and most profitable offices in the relevant district, and was the “go-to person” for the district on loan processing.

The loan processor’s personnel file was devoid of any disciplinary actions, and none of the decision makers alleged that she had any behavioral problems. Despite her superior qualifications, the loan processor was passed over for promotion; a decision which the EEOC charged was based on her age and race.

Such alleged conduct violates both the Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibit employment discrimination against people on the basis of race and age respectively. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the terms of consent decree, signed by U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn, Wells Fargo will pay the employee $55,000 dollars. Since the employer has closed the relevant operations, no other equitable relief was required.

“It was readily apparent that the 47-year-old African-American loan processor was the superior candidate,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Trek Carethers. “The employer had no justification for passing her over, not for one less qualified candidate, but five. The EEOC will continue to remove employment barriers where we find them.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

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