Great Moments in Government Regs, 1,000s of Low-Level Bank Employees Have Been Fired
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, in Des Moines, Iowa, 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 nearby Carlisle, Iowa, on Feb. 2, 1963.Eggers got a chance to explain himself to company officials after they received the results of his criminal background check from a Florida company called First Advantage. He was fired anyway.The computerized report obtained by First Advantage listed Eggers' crime as "fraud." However, records in the Warren County Courthouse confirmed his account of the 1963 incident. The files say he was arrested as a 19-year old for "operating a coin changing machine by false means" and convicted of that charge.Big banks have been firing low-level employees like Eggers since the issuance of new federal banking employment guidelines in May 2011 and new mortgage employment guidelines in February. The tougher standards are meant to weed out executives and mid-level bank employees guilty of transactional crimes, like identity fraud or mortgage fraud, but they are being applied across-the-board thanks to $1 million a day fines for noncompliance.Banks have fired thousands of workers nationally because of the rules, said Natasha Buchanan, an attorney with Higbee & Associates in Santa Ana, Calif., who has helped some of the banking workers regain their eligibility to be employed.