As Wells Fargo CEO John G. Stumpf was being grilled withquestions and criticisms by the U.S. House Financial ServicesCommittee in Wash. D.C., Thursday, a top-to-bottom review of cases,complaints and violations over the bank's employment practices isunder way at the U.S. Department of Labor.

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The review was triggered by a Sept. 22nd lettersigned by seven U.S. Senators who asked the DOL to launch aninvestigation into whether Wells Fargo violated the Fair Labor Standards Act with respectto its account executives, bank tellers, branch managers andcustomer service representatives.

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The alleged FLSA violations surfaced during investigations bythe CFPB and California regulators uncovered that 5,300 employeesopened as many at 1.5 million unauthorized deposit accounts andsubmitted more than 560,000 fraudulent credit card applications.California and federal regulators fined Wells Fargo a combined $185million for the widespread illegal practices.

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The fraud also exposed a Wells Fargo workplace characterized bystringent sales quotas and aggressive incentives imposed on itsemployees that opened the door for them to pursue underhanded salespractices.

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According to the Senators' letter to the DOL, when quotasweren't met employees faced threats of termination, mandated hoursof unpaid overtime, harassment and other forms of retaliation.

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WellsFargo stands out given allegations that the bank repeatedlyviolated wage and hour provisions in the FLSA by denying employeesovertime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week,” wrotethe Senators. “These complaints go back as far as 1999 and cutacross many of the different business group within Wells Faro,including the insurance, mortgage and retail banking groups.”

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The letter cites seven specific examples of Wells Fargo accountexecutives, branch managers, bank tellers, loan officers andtechnical support workers who filed lawsuits or complaints allegingunpaid overtime, wrongful terminations and wrongfulmisclassifications.

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“The emerging portrait of the company's actual behavior suggestspotential widespread exploitations of its own workforce in order tofacilitate the widespread exploitation of its customer base,” wrotethe Senators.

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The letter was signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren ofMassachusetts, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Bernard Sanders ofVermont, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sherrod Brown of Ohio,Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Jeffrey A. Merkley of Oregon andMazie K. Hirono of Hawaii.

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In a Sept. 26th reply letter to the Senators,Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez wrote that to ensure a thoroughand expedient review of Well Fargos' alleged FSLA violations, theDOL has established a working group that includes the Wage and HourDivision, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, theOccupational Safety and Health Administration, the Office ofFederal Contract Compliance Programs and the Office of theSolicitor.

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Perez did not indicate when the Wells Fargo review would be completed.

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In addition to the DOL's top-to-bottom review, it has takenother measure to ensure that all current and former Wells Fargoemployees are aware of the worker protection laws, which includes anew dedicated landing page at www.dol.gov/wellsfargo. The federalagency also has set up toll free hotline, 1-866-4USADOL and emailaddress [email protected].

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Wells Fargo did not respond to a CU Times requestseeking comment Thursday.

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