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Wells Fargo saleswoman alleges she was held to ‘entirely different standard’ in ‘boys club’ workplace

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Dive Brief:

  • A female securities salesperson alleged sex discrimination against Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, over its “unapologetically sexist” work environment that cost her compensation and promotions, according to a lawsuit filed April 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 
  • The worker alleged her employer gave large, more profitable accounts to her male colleagues because they were “sole breadwinners,” while she was a “second income” for her husband, and created a male-dominated and hostile work environment in which “degrading comments about women are the norm,” according to court documents. She alleged the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Equal Pay Act.
  • Wells Fargo disputed the claims as being “without merit,” in an emailed statement to HR Dive. “Wells Fargo provides equal employment opportunities to all employees, regardless of gender or any other status protected by applicable law. We value and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our business and at all levels,” the statement said.

Dive Insight:

Under Title VII, employers can’t discriminate against any individual via compensation or terms and conditions of employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The Equal Pay Act, meanwhile, requires employers to pay men and women equally for equal work. 

In the complaint, the saleswoman said the male-managed Financial Institutions Group routinely allowed her male colleagues with similar tenure and experience to move into higher and more lucrative positions, while questioning her performance. She — the only female securities professional on the team — was not given the same opportunities or the same compensation, according to court documents. 

“Most employees in commission sales groups, like the Financial Institutions Group, obtain large accounts through reassignment,” court documents read. “Wells Fargo leaves reassignment to the discretion of its disproportionately male management, resulting in gender-based favoritism in the form of male managers passing accounts to their male colleagues — often also their drinking or golfing buddies.”

In another recent financial services lawsuit, a Citigroup managing director alleged she was subjected to a “pervasive” culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination and was “coerced” into having a relationship with supervisor. After she ended the relationship with the supervisor, he allegedly threatened to set her on fire, harm her children and end her career, the lawsuit alleged.

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