08/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bank of America's Employees: The Other Side of the Financial Crisis

The reports are damning.

For the first time, Bank of America workers are speaking out about how the bank's practices hurt customers and employees.

According to the Associated Press, Bank of America "encouraged" its employees to "burden consumers with debt and enroll them in high-fee programs." Fed up with these unsavory practices, Bank of America workers are speaking out.

What kind of pressure to sell products are employees under at banks like Bank of America? Here's what one former Bank of America employee said:

"From sun up until sun down, six days a week, I was under constant pressure to push products that were usually bad for consumers and were -- in my opinion -- unethical," said Gabby Ornelas, a former Bank of America Personal Banker from the Washington, DC area.

This is the other, hidden side of the financial crisis: bank employees had no choice but to push products that ended up hurting their customers.

Bank workers say they are routinely encouraged to push products on consumers that maximize fees, raise interest rates, and max out credit cards in order to meet ludicrously high sales goals. Worse, employees report they're told to target students, the elderly, and non-English speakers who are the most at-risk to end up paying huge fees.

Here's what the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday about what Bank of America workers are saying:

The former workers said they were going public to lay out what they saw as a little-known side of BofA's business model: encouraging working-class customers to sign up for high-interest-rate credit and cash advance services and structuring an array of check and debit card services to maximize overdraft fees and other charges.

Bank workers need our help to continue to speak out.

So what can you do?

Congress will soon debate financial reforms to protect consumers -- we need to make sure that those reforms also protect employees that sell the banks' products. In addition to giving bank workers a voice at work with legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act, new financial reforms need to protect both consumers from bad products, and employees who blow the whistle on bad practices at banks.

And if you're a Bank of America employee, please go to and share your story about practices you see at work.