USA Today has an upsetting story today about a strange trend that has stemmed from new federal banking regulations: low-level employees are being fired from banks for petty offenses dating back as far as the early 1960’s. New federal regulations created to push fraudsters out of the upper ranks of the banking industry come with steep non-compliance fines of $1 million per day according to USA Today. In response, banks have begun letting go call-center employees with even the most minor crime on their records.
USA Today leads with Richard Eggers’ story:
Richard Eggers doesn’t look like a mastermind of financial crime.
The former farm boy speaks deliberately, can’t remember the last time he got a speeding ticket, and favors suspenders, horn-rim glasses and plaid shirts. But the 68-year-old Vietnam veteran is still too risky for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, which fired him on July 12 from his $29,795-a-year job as a customer service representative.
Egger’s crime? Putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a washing machine in Carlisle on Feb. 2, 1963.
“It was a stupid stunt and I’m not real proud of it, but to fire somebody for something like this after seven good years of employment is a dirty trick when you come right down to it,” said Eggers of Des Moines. “And they’re doing this kind of thing all across the country.”
Bank of America has been purging employees for minor criminal offenses, too, according to the story. It seems unlikely that the federal government would run background checks on each and every call-center employee, and impose millions of dollars in fines on any bank found to be violating the rule. The answer to this problem, it seems to us, is for the federal government to be clearer about what level of compliance it’s seeking from banks. There’s something to be said for clarity — especially when people’s livelihoods lie in the balance.