Wells Fargo Bank has agreed to pay $105,000 to settle a lawsuit charging certain Nevada business bankers weren’t paid overtime after they were misclassified as managers.
Settlement of the 2009 class-action lawsuit was approved this week by U.S. District Judge Lloyd George in Las Vegas.
Attorneys for Wells Fargo employee Amber Salazar in Las Vegas had sued the bank in Clark County District Court. The suit was later transferred to federal court.
The suit claimed Salazar and other business banking specialists had been regularly required to work off the clock on designated "call nights."
The job of business banking specialist involved helping business customers open accounts and obtain small business loans, and these employees had to work on the call nights, the lawsuit said.
Attorneys for Wells Fargo denied the allegations and submitted affidavits from 22 business banking specialists and branch managers saying the business banking specialists had been fully paid.
Wells Fargo attorneys said Salazar lacked credibility as she knew it was the bank’s written policy that employees must report all hours worked – and that it was Salazar who falsified her time cards.
"Plaintiff admits that she never informed any Wells Fargo manager that she was falsifying her time and concedes that she was paid for all the time that she recorded," Wells Fargo attorneys wrote in a court brief in the case.
They added that during the 47 weeks she worked in 2009 as a business banking specialist, in 26 of those weeks she recorded working less than 40 hours. She also took 17 days worth of paid time off during this period and "admits she struggled as a business banking specialist and that she was a poor performer."
But with attorneys for the class-action plaintiffs asserting hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees piling up, Wells Fargo agreed to settle with the understanding it was denying the allegations. The settlement is for $100,000 plus up to $5,000 to administer payments to the plaintiffs.
Notice of the settlement had been mailed to 186 potential class-action plaintiffs, but just 64 filed claims. Records show they’ll each receive about $1,000 after legal expenses, though Salazar will receive an extra $2,500 as the lead plaintiff.
"This result is an excellent one given the fact that the internal records of Wells Fargo indicate that the class was underpaid, at most, $300,000 for their overtime compensation," plaintiff’s attorney David Markham of San Diego wrote in a court declaration.
Despite the 22 affidavits from Wells Fargo managers, Salazar insisted she was not paid for the time at issue.
"Thus, the parties disagreed whether this failure to pay was common to the class as a whole," Markham wrote in his filing, adding the settlement made sense for the plaintiffs given their own litigation risks including potential costs should Wells Fargo appeal an adverse court ruling.
A separate suit filed about the same time in Las Vegas by Markham and associated attorneys on behalf of AutoZone managers alleged similar overtime law violations. That suit was closed earlier this year under undisclosed terms.