Mediation between Wells Fargo, fired employees fails

tbarton@islandpacket.com

February 18, 2014 

COURTESY OF THECOLLEGEINVESTIGATOR.COM

An effort to resolve a lawsuit between Wells Fargo and former employees of the bank's Bluffton branch ended without a settlement.

Unless mediation resumes, the case will go to trial the week of Aug. 4, according to court records.

Attorneys for Wells Fargo and the fired employees met Jan. 28 in Charleston to try to resolve state and federal lawsuits, in which the former employees allege wrongful termination.

Attempts Monday and Tuesday to reach Hilton Head Island attorney John Bowen, who is representing the former employees, and Wells Fargo attorney Jennifer K. Dunlap were unsuccessful.

Bowen is representing fired Bluffton branch manager Mark Stroud in federal court. Stroud is suing the bank and bank investigator Chuck Owens.

Bowen also is representing former Wells Fargo tellers Deborah Govan, Maria Olivia Dulaney, LaTeshia Barnwell, Zylthia Atkins, Gregory Cherewko and Linda Gillet in the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas.

Scott Zardenetta, a former Wells Fargo district manager, was dismissed as a defendant in the cases in December, according to court records.

Stroud and the tellers were fired in July 2012 after Zardenetta accused them of violating company ethics rules for receiving "credits" for opening new accounts he said they didn't earn, the lawsuits say. The employees' suit says they were fired to cover up Zardenetta's alleged cocaine use and sexual harassment.

The bank has denied the allegations and said it did nothing illegal by firing the employees. It also asserts Stroud was fired for "documented performance and customer-service failures."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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