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Former employees of Wells Fargo file lawsuit in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- Nearly a dozen former employees of Wells Fargo in several states are suing the bank in federal court in South Dakota, alleging they were fired for minor criminal charges that had already been disclosed when they were hired.

SIOUX FALLS (AP) - Nearly a dozen former employees of Wells Fargo in several states are suing the bank in federal court in South Dakota, alleging they were fired for minor criminal charges that had already been disclosed when they were hired.

The criminal records surfaced when Wells Fargo hired a company to conduct background checks on employees, the Argus Leader reported. The background checks were conducted in order to comply with a 2008 federal law that prohibited banks and mortgage lenders from employing people convicted of crimes involving dishonesty.

In some cases, the criminal charges were decades old and had been expunge or dismissed from employees' records. But according to the lawsuit, the former employees' backgrounds didn't bar them from employment in the industry. The lawsuit alleges that some employees were told the criminal charges wouldn't affect their employment.

Among those employees was Kathryn Eastman, who was fired in 2012 for the theft of hairbrush in 1982. She had previously passed two background checks and had informed the bank of her history, which she was told wouldn't affect her employment.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo didn't immediately respond to the newspaper for comment.

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The lawsuit also accuses the bank of fraud, conspiracy and violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

"Pursuant to the Backgrounds Check Project, Wells Fargo abruptly fired hundreds of exemplary employees, some of whom had worked for Wells Fargo for decades and were approaching retirement, others who had just received promotions or had bonuses forthcoming," the lawsuit alleges.

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