Wells Fargo Manager Harassed Spanish-Speaking Workers, Lawsuit Says

Two women who work in a Valley Wells Fargo bank claim their manager instructed them to stop speaking Spanish to Spanish-speaking employees, says a civil rights lawsuit filed in Superior Court.

The white manager "didn't like" when they spoke Spanish and told them to speak English, even when trying to do business with Spanish-only customers, says the lawsuit, published on

The women also claim a pattern of general harassment of Hispanics. The lawsuit notes that although the Wells Fargo branch bank is in a heavily Hispanic area, the manager has managed to either fire or force out every Hispanic who worked there.

Irene Navarrete, one of the women, also claims that she was made by the manager to prove she visited a doctor one day after she missed work, even though white workers are never asked to provide such evidence.

The other woman, Alma Olivia, worked at the branch for 10 years until the manager fired her. She later found a similar job at Wachovia, but when that bank chain was taken over by Wells Fargo, Olivia was fired again.

The alleged treatment of the employees runs counter to Wells Fargo policy, both in terms of harassment and the company's stated desire to give customers the best service possible. The women want back pay and other compensation.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.