CFPB Accused of Discrimination

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency has come under fire for broad workplace discrimination. An American Banker magazine article published on March 6 revealed that CFPB  managers showed “a pattern of ranking white employees considerably better than minorities in performance reviews used to award raises and bonuses.”

American Banker said that “white employees were twice as likely in 2013 as African American or Hispanic employees to receive the CFPB’s highest job-performance evaluation grade of 5.” The CFPB ranking system is used to award raises and bonuses. For example, the internal CFPB documents show that 21 percent of the agency’s white employees received the highest performance rating compared with 11 percent of African American employees, 9 percent Hispanic employees and 16 percent for Asian employee.

The trade publication said those sharp racial disparities are only one of many serious personnel problems plaguing the two-year-old CFPB. It claimed that employees have filed 115 official grievances since last August.

The controversial figures set off a Congressional hearing this week among the CFPB’s opponents in Congress.

On April 2, testifying before the House Financial Services Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, a CFPB employee claimed  that the agency has “a pervasive culture of retaliation and intimidation that  silences employees and chills the workforce from exposing wrongdoing.”

Angela Martin, a CFPB enforcement attorney, testified that she experienced gender discrimination and retaliation for filing an official  discrimination complaint. Also testifying at the hearing was Misty Raucci, an outside investigator hired by the CFPB to look into Martin’s claims. Raucci charged that the CFPB failed to uphold its own equal employment opportunity policies.

“I am a victim of discrimination by the Bureau dating back to May 2012, and I have suffered severe retaliation since December 2012 which continues through today,” said Martin. “Sadly, my story is not unique. My colleagues likewise have suffered and are suffering at the hands of inexperienced, unaccountable managers.”

The CFPB was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and is supposed to protect consumers from the financial industry. Now the CFPB is getting a painful lesson in the “disparate impact” theory of discrimination that the agency uses to “prove” discrimination in the industries it regulates.

In an ironic twist, now the CFPB is being judge under the same controversial legal doctrine of disparate impact.

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