Cancel CFPB Discrimination Hearing: Democrats
Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee have called for the cancellation of an April 2 hearing that will focus on allegations of employee discrimination at the CFPB.
In a press release on Monday, the Democratic committee members announced their opposition to the hearing, which was scheduled by Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) in response to allegations made in an American Banker article in early March.
“We are very concerned with claims of discrimination at the CFPB and have requested that the Inspector General investigate those allegations, as well as personnel practices within all federal financial agencies. However, we take exception with the unorthodox manner in which the upcoming hearing was empaneled and organized,” the lawmakers wrote to Hensarling in a letter dated March 28.
“It appears now that the hearing will focus exclusively on an individual employee’s claim, which our understanding is the subject of a confidential and on-going grievance resolution process, and a discussion of which potentially jeopardizes the individual employee’s case and the disclosure of the privacy of other CFPB employees,” the letter also said.
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In a previous letter dated March 24, Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and other Democrat lawmakers asked Federal Reserve Inspector General Mark Bialek to investigate allegations that CFPB managers had been ranking white employees “distinctly better” than minority employees on performance reports.
The liberal lawmakers also asked for a review of internal operations at other federal agencies, including the NCUA, FDIC and Treasury Department, in order to “determine whether any personnel practices have created a discriminatory workplace or otherwise systematically disadvantaged minorities from obtaining senior management positions.”
Hensarling and House Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) refuted the Democrats’ claim that the allegations are based on the account of one CFPB employee.
The lawmakers said they invited five witnesses with connections to the CFPB, but the bureau refused to allow them to testify.
"This attempt to silence and intimidate whistleblowers is disappointing. Discrimination and retaliation are unacceptable. We hope Democrats on the subcommittee will be respectful of the witnesses and give this hearing the attention it deserves,” said McHenry in a statement on Monday.
"One of those witnesses, who was hired by the CFPB to investigate workplace issues at the CFPB, says she found a 'general environment ... of exclusion, retaliation, discrimination, nepotism, demoralization, devaluation, and other offensive working conditions which constitute a toxic workplace for many of its employees.’ It's extremely disturbing that Democrats and the CFPB want to sweep this under the rug," he added.
Among those invited to testify are Angela Martin, senior enforcement attorney at the CFPB and Misty Raucci, former investigator at the Defense Investigators Group, who was hired by the CFPB to investigate Martin’s claims.
In a letter sent to the Democratic members on Monday, Hensarling and McHenry said Martin was scheduled to discuss the unfair treatment of minorities in the CFPB’s employee review process.
They also said the other CFPB officials that were invited, including Liza Strong, director of employee relations and M. Stacey Bach, assistant director at the Office of Equal Opportunity Employment, have direct knowledge of the employee evaluation practices.
Hensarling and McHenry said the hearing would proceed as planned.