Former Wells Fargo Managers Sue the Bank -- WSJ

By Emily Glazer Features Dow Jones Newswires

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (September 6, 2017).

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Two former managers have sued Wells Fargo & Co., claiming they were unfairly fired over the bank's sales-practices issues.

Reza Razzaghipour and Marla Razzaghipour claimed their dismissals were retaliation for them raising issues with senior managers about the questionable sales practices, such as falsification of bank records, according to a lawsuit filed Aug. 31 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The former managers, who are husband and wife, were fired in March 2017 from positions overseeing regions in Southern California. Combined, the two managed about 3,500 staff, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.

A Wells Fargo spokesman said in a statement Tuesday that the bank "denies the allegations of these two former regional presidents. The termination decisions were not retaliatory as alleged in the complaint. The company terminated the employment of these two individuals for legitimate and lawful reasons."

Wells Fargo was ordered to pay a $185 million fine last year over its sales practices and has since faced public and political pressure as the scandal erupted. More than 5,300 employees were fired over a five-year period for the behavior. The bank said last week up to 3.5 million customer accounts may have been unauthorized.

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The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Razzaghipour reported one type of employee fraud in 2013 and fired a "significant number of employees involved." The lawsuit also alleges that Mrs. Razzaghipour, known to some at work as Marla Clemow, "reported the illegal and unethical sales practices at the highest levels multiple times."

Both former managers "never fired or disciplined anyone for failing to meet the bank's impossible and fraudulent sales goals," the lawsuit claimed.

But some current and former employees and managers have told The Wall Street Journal that Mr. and Mrs. Razzaghipour pushed them to engage in questionable sales tactics.

"My clients were fired in retaliation for complaining of illegal conduct at Wells Fargo, including the bank's improper sales practices," the managers' lawyer Emanuel Shirazi, of Los Angeles-based Shirazi Law Firm, said in a statement. "Despite knowing this, Wells Fargo chose to scapegoat Mr. & Mrs. Razzaghipour."

The lawyer didn't comment specifically on the employee allegations.

The Razzaghipour's lawsuit also names several retail-banking executives, some of whom are still employed by the bank and others who were fired, as the real "bad actors."

The managers requested their payroll and personnel files from Wells Fargo, which refused to produce them, according to the lawsuit. They then filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. In the lawsuit they ask for damages of at least $50 million.

Write to Emily Glazer at emily.glazer@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 06, 2017 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)