By Kerry Picket
WASHINGTON — The office of civil rights at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) stated Tuesday it discriminated against one of its own employees.
According to the ruling by the Bureau’s Office of Civil Rights, the agency acknowledged discrimination in an attempt to keep the issue from going public through an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proceeding.
In a notice to US Consumer Coalition, a D.C. based consumer advocacy organization, the Bureau’s Office of Civil Rights and Office of Equal Opportunity and Fairness stated the Bureau “violated the Rehabilitation Act when it failed to provide an employee with an effective accommodation for disability-related limitations, when it discouraged the employees from requesting leave as a type of reasonable accommodation, when it gave the employee a negative mid year performance evaluation that referenced the employee’s inability to do job duties because of the employee’s disability, and when it penalized the employee for needing and using disability-related leave. Additionally, the Bureau violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it retaliated against the employee because the employee spoke out against discrimination.”
The U.S. Consumer Coalition also notes that the CFPB “violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it retaliated against the employee because the employee spoke out against discrimination.”
“This finding is a huge step forward in reforming the CFPB and holding them accountable for their actions. This shows they have no respect for their employees and confirms the dozens of reports of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation that we have received from current and former CFPB employees”, said Brian J. Wise, President of the US Consumer Coalition, in a statement.
“In order for the CFPB to accomplish its original mandate from the Dodd-Frank Act, and restore credibility to this agency, we must see a change in leadership, structure, and culture at the CFPB, not with the employees, but with the management.”
The CFPB has been accused of discrimination publicly and in Congressional hearings. Wise notes that one particular individual who they say received retribution for speaking out was the former president of the employee union at the CFPB, Rob Cauldwell.
“I believe in the mission of the CFPB. I believe in what we were trying to do there. But as a disabled, gay, part Native American man, I quickly became one of the targets of the discrimination at the Bureau, and when employees that were part of our union came to me with stories of racism and bigotry, I knew they were telling the truth, because I had experienced them firsthand,” said Robert Cauldwell, former President of the National Treasury Employees Union at the CFPB.
Wise says that Cauldwell’s 2015 congressional testimony about the CFPB to Congress on the issues he brought forth “was met with retaliation by Congressman Keith Ellison and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. They both retaliated against his claims of discrimination by publicly disclosing confidential and unsupported claims that were part of his employee record.”
President Barack Obama tapped Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, prior her election to the upper chamber in 2012, to set up the CFPB in 2010 as a result of the passage of the Democrats’ Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill.