Cordray to testify in CFPB discrimination probe

by Ryan Smith29 Jul 2014
The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will testify tomorrow in an ongoing probe into alleged discrimination at the agency.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray will testify tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. before the House Financial Services Committee’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, according to the committee agenda.

Since April, the subcommittee has been conducting an investigation into what a whistleblower called “a pervasive culture of retaliation and intimidation that silences employees and chills the workforce from exposing wrongdoing.”

The subcommittee first heard from CFPB attorney Angela Martin, who testified that she and her fellow employees “have suffered and are suffering at the hands of inexperienced, unaccountable managers.”

Misty Raucci, an independent investigator hired by the CFPB to look into Martin’s allegations, concluded that Martin’s claims were valid. And on May 21, employee union representative Ben Konop testified that women and minorities employed by the CFPB alleged pay disparities between them and “similarly situated white male colleagues.”

“To date, the Bureau has denied each of these grievances at all stages, often using inconsistent reasoning, despite what I feel is convincing evidence of low pay for numerous women and minority workers,” Konop testified.

On June 18, CFPB employee Ali Naraghi testified that he was the victim of repeated ethinc slurs and that “the culture of intimidation and retaliation” at the agency “makes it very difficult for employees to raise concerns about mistreatment, mismanagement and abuse of authority.”

At the same hearing, former CFPB employee Kevin Williams testified that “the frequency and duration of these occurrences, speaking of discrimination, created a hostile work environment for all blacks at the Bureau whether they were unwitting manipulated black managers or mistreated hard-working black employees.”

Martin and Williams both testified that a division of the agency’s consumer response team that is staffed mostly by African-American employees is referred to internally as “the plantation.”

“Rather than allow the plantation workers to compete for vacant leadership positions, my managers hired two white males to oversee us,” Williams testified. “If you were a black employee on the plantation, you were either a team lead or in the field. Not one team lead from my unit was ever promoted to a manager.”

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