Wells Fargo, which was ranked as the 4th most profitable company on last year’s Fortune 500, will now be forced to pay out almost $100 million in unpaid wages.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson ruled that Wells Fargo didn’t compensate workers properly in accordance with California law, amounting to more than $97 million in wages denied to workers. The state requires that all companies give employees a 10-minute paid break for every four hours on the job. While Wells Fargo said the workers should only get the regular hourly rate for breaks, the workers argued that the regular hourly rate doesn’t take the commissions they earn into account. Judge Anderson sided with the workers.
“I feel like justice has been served,” lead plaintiff and former Wells Fargo employee Jackie Ibarra told CNNMoney. “It’s unfair not to pay us properly when we’re essentially working on commission.”
Friday’s class-action settlement comes on the heels of another judgment against the megabank, which was found to have regularly scammed customers by opening up millions of fake accounts and credit cards in their name, and bilking them for fees for not having enough of a minimum balance in the dummy accounts. The bank has been ordered to compensate customers affected by the scam to the tune of $6.1 million.
Additionally, the Federal Reserve in February ordered Wells Fargo to keep its assets portfolio at $2 trillion or less in relation to the scandal until the bank proved to the Fed that its business practices were on the level.
The bank has announced it plans to appeal Judge Anderson’s decision, saying that it should only have to pay $24 million to the workers it stiffed by arguing the commissions aren’t applicable.
“We disagree and believe the court misunderstood our compensation plan and misunderstood the law,” a Wells Fargo spokesman told CNNMoney.
Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.