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Wells Fargo ordered to compensate workers $97M for unpaid breaks

For the past couple of years, Wells Fargo has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The bank has admitted defrauding millions of customers by signing them up for accounts and auto insurance the customers did not ask for, costing them serious money and in some cases costing them their vehicle. The Federal Reserve has sanctioned the company for “widespread consumer abuses.”

The troubled California-based bank is now facing yet another multi-million-dollar penalty for breaking the law. As CNN Money reports, a federal judge has ruled in favor of Wells Fargo employees who sued over not being paid for break periods. The judge ordered Wells Fargo to pay $97.4 million in damages.

Not paying employees for breaks

Under California law, employees are entitled to 10 minutes of paid break time for every four hours of work. The lawsuit was filed by people who worked as mortgage consultants and bankers for Wells Fargo between March 2013 and last August. According to the suit, Wells Fargo refused to compensate them for their breaks.

The judge ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor in January. He handed down the $97.4 million judgment on May 8. Wells Fargo had argued that it only owed $24.5 million and a spokesman said the bank would appeal. “The court misunderstood our compensation plan and misunderstood the law,” the spokesman claimed.

A history of violations

This is at least the second big employment law case Wells Fargo has lost in recent years. In 2017, the Labor Department found that the bank has committed illegal retaliation by firing an employee who had called its ethics hotline. Wells Fargo was forced to rehire the whistleblower and pay him $5.4 million in damages.

Unfortunately, many employers large and small abuse their workers. When you have been shorted under state or federal wage and hour laws, your best chance at getting what you have earned is to retain an experienced employment law attorney.