Thanks, but no thanks.
That’s the word from Richard Eggers, a Vietnam veteran whose boredom a half-century ago got him fired this summer by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, making him a national example of federal rules that go too far as his case gained media exposure and questions from Iowa congressmen.
Eggers lost his job in July after Wells Fargo carried Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation regulations enacted after the mortgage lending crisis to an “insane conclusion,” said Leonard Bates, a Des Moines attorney representing Eggers.
A background check showed that in 1963 Eggers spend two days in jail for putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a washing machine while waiting for a friend. He has had no other encounters with the law in the decades since.
The FDIC approved a waiver that would have allowed him to return to work, but Eggers isn’t interested because he doesn’t think Wells Fargo has changed how it performs the background checks that he and his attorney say are discriminatory.
“Rather, it would seem the bank offered to rehire Eggers in an effort to blunt the wave of adverse publicity surrounding the forum,” he said in a statement issued by his attorney.
In a written statement, a Wells Fargo spokesperson said the company is disappointed in Eggers' decision not to return to work.
The full statement:
"Once Richard Eggers told us about his FDIC waiver, we offered him the same job that he previously held – the same role, with the same salary and the same team. Unfortunately, in rejecting our offer to return to work and demanding a number of unreasonable conditions, Mr. Eggers and his lawyer have not recognized our responsibility to apply the law equitably and fairly for all of our team members. It was our hope that Richard Eggers would accept our offer to return to work as a team member for Wells Fargo, and we are disappointed he has chosen not to."
Eggers’ complaint before the Iowa Civil Rights Commission remains active. The commission will determine if there is a claim. If so, it clears the way for a discrimination claim.
“Wells Fargo chooses to treat employees in lower-level jobs as if they’re a dime a dozen,” Eggers said in the statement. “I would like to have my job back, but if I go back and nothing is changed, what stops them from firing me again or from firing others like me?”
Eggers was fired under a combination of new and old regulations — The S.A.F.E. Act and 12 U.S. C. 1829, which was enacted in 1950 — aimed at preventing individuals with prior fraud convictions from serving in influential positions in the mortgage business.
Understanding that an unintended consequence could be the termination of employees with very minor infractions, or of those with no role in lending, the bank regulators allowed for waivers.
Eggers and several other employees in customer service and clerical jobs were terminated without receiving any advance notice of the FDIC waivers or how to secure them.
In the statement, attorney Bates said Wells Fargo officials were clearly aware of the waivers because the bank’s termination letter to Eggers mentions the waiver. Curiously, the waiver information was omitted in the letters sent to other employees terminated under the same regulations. Attorneys believe the bank did help certain, preferred employees through the waiver process.
“Richard formally proposed to Wells Fargo that it make changes to the process, such as notifying employees they can apply for a waiver, and the bank flatly refused,” Bates said. “He feels it would be wrong to accept the conditional employment, knowing that others are continuing to be hurt by the discriminatory practice.”
Eggers is continuing to negotiate the terms of his re-employment with the help of his attorney.