POLITICS
01/27/2017 11:00 pm ET

Wells Fargo Complaints Vanish From Labor Department Website

Missing worker protection page appears to be latest Trump administration purge.

In the latest example of an apparent information purge by the Trump administration, bank employee complaints against Wells Fargo have vanished from the federal Department of Labor’s website.

The entire page established to help protect whistleblowers and collect complaints against the bank has been “disappeared.” The page was created in September when the Labor Department launched an investigation into the bank’s treatment of its workers after Wells Fargo admitted setting up secret phony customer accounts to capture bank fees and charge consumers for them. Labor officials sought to aid whistleblowers and to determine if the company violated any wage and overtime regulations while branch employees were pressed to meet tough sales quotas, including setting up the phony accounts.

The bank fired 5,300 workers for creating as many as 2 million fake accounts amid employee complaints about an incredibly high-pressure sales culture and mistreatment of workers.

The alarm on the vanishing website was sounded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) when she called up the page to check for updates, reports Bloomberg. The page was still up the day Donald Trump took the oath of office, according to Warren, but is no more. Steve Barr, a spokesman for the Labor Department, insisted to Bloomberg, however, that the page had been taken down before the inauguration and that he had no idea why.

“I am concerned that the Department of Labor has removed the website where Wells Fargo’s employees who were victims of the company’s fraudulent actions could file labor complaints or report illegal activity,” Warren wrote to acting Labor Secretary Edward Hugler in a letter Thursday. “Taking down this website enables Wells Fargo to escape full responsibility for its fraudulent actions and the department to shirk its outstanding obligations to American workers.”

The vanishing page is among the latest in a number of radical information changes on federal agency websites in the new Trump era. After the inauguration, the Trump administration immediately scrubbed any mention of climate change from the White House website. In addition, some Environmental Protection Agency pages about global warming have been shut down, though its main section on climate change is still up. The White House also yanked tweets posted by the National Park Service about climate change, as well as photo posts comparing Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration to Trump’s smaller turnout.

Several renegade Twitter sites have since popped up purporting to represent federal agencies and touting facts about climate change and vaccinations that they insist President Trump is mightily attempting to censor.

Wells Fargo has apologized for the phony accounts and was slapped with a $185 million fine to settle customer fraud complaints. In December, however, it demanded that consumer lawsuits filed against the bank be settled by arbitration, which would likely save the bank money. Executives have also said that Wells Fargo is ending sales incentives that have been blamed for the phony accounts. The bank forced CEO and Chairman John Stumpf to forfeit $41 million in unvested stock, give up his $2.8 million annual salary for a time and forego a 2016 bonus because of the scandal. He retired in October.

The bank is now a growing target of environmentalists because it’s an investor in the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is supported by Trump.

CONVERSATIONS