Ex-Wells Manager Fired While on Medical Leave for Cancer Files Complaint

October 23, 2020

A former Wells Fargo manager who lost his job while on medical leave for cancer has filed a complaint accusing the firm of discrimination, according to news reports.

Reginald Robinson, who is Black, had been with Wells Fargo since 2018 and was in charge of mutual fund operations within the firm’s wealth and investment management division in St. Louis, Bloomberg writes. In May, he told the company that he was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently went on medical leave from June until September, according to the news service, which cites a complaint Robinson filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last month.

Wells Fargo, however, told Robinson it was letting him go because of “job criticality,” according to Robinson’s complaint against Wells Fargo’s clearing services unit, Bloomberg writes.

In addition, Robinson claims that a position he had applied for in 2019 was given to a younger and less experienced white man who remains with the firm, according to the news service.

Robinson is alleging race, age and disability discrimination, Bloomberg writes.

“We are at the beginning of a multiyear effort to build a stronger, more efficient company,” Wells Fargo spokesperson Shea Leordeanu tells the news service in a statement. “When doing any displacements, we take steps to ensure we are approaching the process with fairness and with our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the forefront.”

John Singer, an attorney at law firm Singer Deutsch who is representing Robinson, however, takes issue with Robinson’s situation in light of recent commitments by Wells Fargo to advance racial justice at the firm, according to Bloomberg.

In June, Well Fargo CEO Charles Scharf told employees that the company must double the number of Black executives within five years, among other initiatives to boost diversity — although comments Scharf made in that memo about a lack of qualified Black talent have landed him in hot water since then.

“There’s an inherent incongruity between asserting that the bank ostensibly intends on doubling its Black leadership over the next five years and then, within just a few months thereafter, dismissing without cause Mr. Robinson, an African-American senior executive at the bank and the only African-American at his level or higher in all of operations in the bank’s St. Louis office,” Singer says.

In August, meanwhile, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $7.8 million to settle claims brought by the Department of Labor that it had discriminated against tens of thousands of Black and female job applicants.

Just a few weeks later — following an executive order from the Trump administration to withdraw government contracts from firms promoting concepts “rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country” — the DOL began investigating Scharf’s pledge to double the number of Black executives at the firm on the grounds that it could be taking employment action based on race.

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By Alex Padalka
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