Wells Fargo hit with job discrimination lawsuit

Jon Campisi Feb. 1, 2012, 8:05am

A former banker with Wells Fargo who claims he was fired from his job in retaliation for speaking out against a manager’s alleged hostility toward him has filed a federal job discrimination lawsuit against the San Francisco-based banking giant.

Bensalem, Pa. employment attorney Ari R. Karpf filed the federal complaint Jan. 30 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Sellersville, Pa. resident Mtesa Ramsey.

The plaintiff, who was hired as a licensed personal banker in June 2009 to work at the defendant’s Center Square, Pa. location, was soon transferred to the Quakertown branch, where, because of his religious beliefs, he informed management that he could not work after 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, the lawsuit states.

The accommodation was initially requested, but when the Quakertown branch manager was replaced by another individual, the plaintiff was told by his new supervisor that he would no longer be given special treatment, according to the complaint.

Ramsey contacted human resources, who informed him that he could continue with his special religious accommodations.

Ramsey then informed his new boss of the conversation with HR, but that didn’t seem to sway the supervisor, identified as Phil Sergi, who informed the plaintiff that despite his conversation with HR, Ramsey would have to work when Sergi needed him to, the lawsuit states.

Ramsey again contacted the human resources representative in early June 2011 to discuss Sergi’s “continued hostility toward him because of his requests for a religious accommodation,” the lawsuit states.

Ramsey was fired from his job about a week later. The reason given was alleged insubordination because Ramsey called HR during business hours to discuss his case, the suit states.

According to the complaint, however, Ramsey was specifically instructed by HR to call in the event there were additional problems with Sergi.

The lawsuit claims that during a hearing before the Department of Labor, a referee discovered that Ramsey had not engaged in willful misconduct because he “had good cause to call the human resources department because someone there had apparently led him to believe he was not required to work, at least Mondays and Wednesdays, and because his supervisor was requiring an immediate answer from him and he wanted an intermediary.”

The lawsuit accuses Wells Fargo of violating Ramsey’s civil rights. The suit also contains counts of religious discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

The complaint seeks to have Wells Fargo prevented from engaging in future discrimination against employees.

Ramsey also seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to other equitable and legal relief.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00466-ER.

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