A federal judge gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a settlement that would have Wells Fargo & Co. pay a combined $35 million to current and former employees who weren’t paid overtime when working outside normal banking hours.
A final approval hearing has been set for Jan. 13 in the federal court for New Jersey.
Wells Fargo said in a statement that “the case has been amicably resolved with the parties bringing the action.”
“Wells Fargo has a long-standing commitment to compensating our team members fairly and in accordance with all federal and state laws.”
The lawsuit was filed in October 2016, about six weeks after the initial surfacing of the fraudulent customer account scandal that has rocked the bank for nearly three years.
The settlement amount per current and former employee would be at least $300 before applicable local, state and federal taxes.
The per-employee amount is limited primarily because “the number of the settlement class members is in the thousands,” as well as deducting attorney fees that likely will be in the 33% range.
Eligible employees, including those in North Carolina, would receive their settlement payment in a check.
According to the settlement, the bank’s payroll and personnel records for all claimants will be used to determine the number of recorded workweeks in which claimants worked more than 38 hours during the class-action period of Jan. 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2017.
However, North Carolina class members are covered for the period of Jan 1, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2017.
The number of workweeks excludes vacation, holiday, sick, meal and rest breaks, and any other paid or unpaid time off that is not included in the calculation of “work” time.
According to the website of the law firm of Berger Montague, a class counsel, the lawsuit is focused on employees who were not paid overtime compensation or not paid for all hours worked.
Wells Fargo said the list of job sectors affected include customer sales and service representatives, personal bankers, private bankers, business banking specialists and senior business banking specialists.
The bank in 2016 acknowledged that it terminated more than 5,000 employees for creating checking and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by customers.
On Sept. 1, 2017, the bank confirmed that at least 3.53 million checking and credit-card accounts were affected by the scandal.
The law firm said “these same employees allege that they were also forced to work off the clock in order to meet the sales targets set by Wells Fargo’s senior management, as it was impossible to achieve such sales in a 40-hour workweek.”
In September 2016, eight U.S. senators, including Democratic presidential nominee candidates Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., requested that the U.S. Labor Department investigate whether Wells Fargo violated the Fair Labor Standards Act with respect to its account executives, bank tellers, branch managers and customer service representatives.
The senators identified a series of employee complaints about possible violations of wage and hour protections dating back as far as 1999.
The senators’ concerns included failing to pay overtime “to bank tellers and associates who stayed late or came in on weekends to meet their sales quotas, or misclassifying salaried bank associates as overtime-exempt to avoid paying the overtime guaranteed to them by the FLSA.”
The senators’ letter detailed the lengths employees went in order to meet the bank’s aggressive sales quotas, as they were faced with “threats of termination; mandated hours of unpaid overtime; harassment; and other forms of retaliation.”
Officials with Warren’s office did not immediately respond as to whether there has been an update to the senators’ letter.