FDIC Grants Waiver to Bank Worker Fired for Putting Cardboard Dime in Washing Machine in 1963

The Des Moines Register reports that a 68-year-old bank worker in Iowa fired by Wells Fargo after a background check found he had been arrested for putting a cardboard dime in a washing machine in 1963 has been cleared to return to work after being granted a waiver by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The full story, an example of the unintended consequences of tightened bank regulations, is available at: http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2012/10/10/fired-bank-employee-cleared-to-work-again.

According to the Des Moines Register, the FDIC noted in granting the waiver request that the former bank worker fired from his job as a customer service representative at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in July 2012 had demonstrated “satisfactory evidence of rehabilitation” since his arrest nearly 50 years ago. While Wells Fargo was “pleased” the FDIC granted the waiver, the Register reports the bank has only invited the former worker “to reapply for employment but has not offered him his old job back and has not offered to change their policy on such terminations.” The Register also reports the FDIC is on pace for a record 189 waiver applications in 2012 after receiving 151 in 2011.

As reported earlier on ESR News blog ‘Bank Worker Fired Under Strict FDIC Guidelines after Background Check Uncovers Minor Crime from 1963,’ banks afraid of penalties are firing low-level employees since new federal banking and mortgage employment guidelines that forbid the employment of workers convicted of crimes involving dishonesty, breach of trust, or money laundering were issued in May 2011 in February 2012. The changed guidelines eliminated exceptions for expunged crimes and some minor offenses while expanding the number of employees covered.

Another ESR News blog recounted a similar firing of a 58-year-old woman – who also worked in customer service for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage – in Milwaukee, Wisconsin after a background check uncovered two 40-year-old shoplifting arrests from 1972 when she was 18.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the woman admitted she stole clothing from a department store twice, was fined $50 for the first incident, and placed on one year of probation for the second. When the woman applied for the Wells Fargo job, she recalled being asked only if she had any felonies in her past.

The FDIC – an independent agency created by the Congress in 1933 to maintain stability and public confidence in the nation’s financial system – provides a waiver process for employees with past criminal convictions to show they are fit to work in the banking and mortgage industries but approval can take six months to a year. An automatic waiver is quicker but limited to workers sentenced to less than one year of jail time and who never spent time in jail. The fired Wells Fargo worker in Iowa, who was jailed two days, did not qualify.

The ‘FDIC STATEMENT OF POLICY FOR SECTION 19 OF THE FDI ACT’ prohibits, without the prior written consent of the FDIC, a person convicted of any criminal offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust or money laundering from working at an insured depository institution. Section 19 also contains a ‘de minimis’ exclusion and the opportunity to apply for a waiver. For more information, visit: http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/rules/5000-1300.html.

For more information about pre-employment background checks as part of a Safe Hiring Program (SHP), visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and nationwide background screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – at http://www.esrcheck.com/, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email customerservice@esrcheck.com.

Sources:
http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2012/10/10/fired-bank-employee-cleared-to-work-again
http://westdesmoines.patch.com/articles/wells-fargo-can-reinstate-worker-fired-over-theft-of-10-cents
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2012/08/31/bank-worker-fired-under-strict-fdic-guidelines-after-background-check-uncovers-minor-crime-from-1963/
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2012/05/09/news-reports-about-bank-firing-employee-for-40-year-old-shoplifting-charge-do-not-tell-entire-story/
http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/rules/5000-1300.html

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):

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