New allegations emerge in Bluffton Wells Fargo firings

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New allegations emerge in Bluffton Wells Fargo firings

Published Thursday, August 23, 2012   |  484 Words  |  

The former manager of a Bluffton branch of Wells Fargo alleges he and eight coworkers were fired last month because he reported a superior's sexual misconduct and drug use.

Robert Mark Stroud lodged a complaint Thursday with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, seeking permission to sue, which is a mandatory precursor to litigation in such cases.

Stroud was not part of an EEOC complaint filed earlier this month by seven fired branch employees alleging a hostile work environment.

The branch is at 11 Arley Way, near the Westbury Park community.

Josh Dunn, a spokesman for the bank's regional headquarters in Charlotte, said he could not confirm whether the bank had been notified of Stroud's allegation.

Stroud believes the firings were initiated by a district manager he had complained about three months earlier.

"I was terminated by (Wells Fargo) in retaliation for reporting complaints and information I had received concerning my district manager's sexual misconduct, improper fraternization and cocaine use/possession to the ... Human Resources Department in April 2012," his EEOC complaint reads.

Other employees were dismissed because they "had learned of his activities, which (involve) other bank employees."

Stroud is represented by John R.C. Bowen, a Hilton Head Island attorney also representing the seven other complainants.

Bowen said he was unaware of Stroud's allegations before filing the first EEOC complaints.

"Certain things about (the terminations) made more sense after I spoke with Mr. Stroud," Bowen said Thursday. "We saw no reason why they had been fired. Maybe they were fired because of what Mr. Stroud reported."

Nine of the branch's 11 employees were fired on or about July 17 after being interviewed individually by bank investigators, according to an EEOC complaint. Stroud said the district manager he reported on was at those interviews.

Dunn, the bank's spokesman, said the branch followed company protocol.

"There is a thorough process we have in place, and those interviews were conducted in line with it," he said. "We stand by those decisions."

Stroud said he has moved to Columbia to live with his family. Without his health care benefits, he says he might be unable to afford treatment for his daughter's life-threatening genetic condition.

Bowen said his claimants hope to resolve the dispute out of court and that he has approached the bank to "reach an amicable resolution," but has not yet received a response.

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