Prosecutors investigating if Wells Fargo conducted fake interviews with Black, female job applicants

Wells Fargo reportedly adopted a policy that requires diverse candidates to be interviewed for jobs paying more than $100,000 annually

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether Wells Fargo violated anti-discrimination laws by conducting sham interviews with Black women and others. 

The nation’s third-largest bank is accused of holding “fake interviews” with Black women and other underrepresented groups in order to falsify diversity efforts, the New York Times reports. 

A general view of the Wells Fargo sign as photographed on March 20, 2020, in Carle Place, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Wells Fargo reportedly adopted a policy – so called “diverse-slate” – that requires diverse candidates to be interviewed for jobs paying more than $100,000 annually. Former executive Joe Bruno told the outlet that Black women and candidates from other underrepesented groups would often be interviewed for jobs that were already filled. 

Bruno called the practice “inappropriate, morally wrong, ethically wrong,” and said that when he complained about it, Wells Fargo retaliated by firing him. 

According to ABC News, Wells Fargo employs more than 235,000 people in the United States – 13 percent are Black, 17 percent are Latino and 55 percent are white. 

The federal investigation is being conducted by the new civil rights unit inside the criminal division of the office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, according to the report. The probe is in its early stages and no charges have been made. 

The May 19 New York Times report that centered on whistle-blower Bruno prompted the investigation.

Wells Fargo issued the following statement in response to the Times report: “The New York Times published a story alleging that a handful of Wells Fargo managers decided to hire a job candidate and then — after making this decision — interviewed diverse candidates knowing that the seat had already been filled. We researched all specific claims the reporter shared with us in advance of the story’s publication and could not corroborate the claims as factual.”

In a statement to ABC News, the company did not address the investigation but noted that “No one should be put through an interview without a real chance of receiving an offer, period. The diverse slate guidelines we put in place are meant to increase diverse representation across the company and we can see meaningful results in our hiring data since 2020.”  

The Wells Fargo statement continued, “At the same time, it’s important that implementation of our guidelines is consistent. Earlier this week, the company temporarily paused the use of its diverse slate guidelines. During this pause, the company is conducting a review so that hiring managers, senior leaders and recruiters fully understand how the guidelines should be implemented – and so we can have confidence that our guidelines live up to their promise.”

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!”