Witnesses testify before subcommittee on alleged discrimination at CFPB

cfpbA House subcommittee heard testimony on Wednesday from witnesses it subpoenaed late last month over allegations of racial and gender discrimination at the CFPB.

At Wednesday’s hearing before the House Financial Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Ben Konop, the executive vice president of the CFPB’s employee union, appeared before the subcommittee, saying the CFPB’s employee union requested performance rating data in the fall of 2013 on the distribution of ratings between labor and management.

According to Konop, the ratings showed managers were allegedly much more likely to receive the highest ratings and far less likely than employees to receive lower ratings. After employees were given their ratings for the previous year, the union was allegedly inundated with requests by members to file grievances over ratings.

“The 2013 ratings showed marked disparities for minority employees,” Konop said. “For example, a white employee was twice as likely to receive the highest rating at the bureau as compared to a black or Hispanic employee. The odds were similarly stacked against workers over 40. And ratings continued to be badly skewed in favor of management when compared with the ratings of the bargaining unit, who do the bulk of the work at the bureau.”

Konop said the union called on the CFPB’s management to make changes to its performance review structure but was allegedly met with unresponsiveness, though the CFPB has since adopted a new performance rating structure.

The subcommittee investigation stems from allegations of discrimination by Angela Martin, an attorney at the CFPB, who said she was retaliated and discriminated against by her manager—an account that was corroborated by an external investigator, Defense Investigators Group (DIG), hired by the CFPB to investigate Martin’s claim.

Liza Strong, the head of employee relations at the CFPB, said in her testimony, however, that her office’s investigation of Martin’s claims did not yield evidence to support her allegations and that the investigation completed by DIG was “an incomplete work product that did not meet the goals set forth in [its] own statement of work.”

The subcommittee went on to discuss a report by Deloitte Consulting commissioned by the CFPB, the findings of which point to problems with the CFPB’s hiring policies, staff promotions, performance reviews and employee pay.

“During my time in Congress, I have yet to witness an outpouring of employee complaints from a federal agency’s employees such as I have seen from the CFPB since the ‘American Banker’ article was released [in March] and this Subcommittee announced that we would be investigating the matter,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the chairman of the subcommittee, said.

Stacey Bach, the assistant director of the CFPB’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, who was also subpoenaed to appear, requested that her testimony be postponed due to a medical issue. Witnesses were subpoenaed after they were allegedly prohibited by the CFPB and National Treasury Employees Union from testifying.

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