And management is going to fire you without pay over it, realize they did so in error, not show any remorse and tell you to shoot HR a cover letter and résumé if you’d like the opportunity to try and get your old job back.
Paul Boudwin knows what we’re talking about.
Boudwin’s ordeal began in July 2011, when the bank was reviewing its employment records to ensure it complied with new federal rules that, among other things, require a criminal background check for anyone who works at a mortgage originator. When he was hired by the bank in 2006, Boudwin disclosed what he says was a legal misunderstanding from his college days. He and his best friend ate breakfast at a Denny’s in Scottsdale, Ariz., near the Arizona State University campus. The place was a student hangout, and after they finished their meal, they mingled with other friends for a while. Each assumed the other had paid the check. When they left the restaurant an hour or so later, a manager confronted them outside, accused them of walking the check and called the police. They were arrested, paid a $50 fine and the $20 tab, tip included. The charge was later dismissed. “There was no intent for not paying for an omelet,” Boudwin said.
When Bank of America’s review last year turned up the information about the omelet incident that Boudwin disclosed when he was hired, it set off a bureaucratic process impervious to reason. In a letter included in the lawsuit, the bank said the charge amounted to a “disqualifying conviction” under the law, which prohibits anyone convicted of an offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust from working at a financial institution. Boudwin submitted court records showing the charges were dismissed. Bank officials assured him the matter would be sorted out, and the bank even filed for a waiver from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on his behalf, court records show. However, the bank said because of the new rules, Boudwin couldn’t continue to work during the six to nine months it might take to get the waiver. He was put on an unpaid leave of absence, and his Wharton trip was canceled. He was told he would receive his back pay and bonus when he was reinstated, he said. In late February of this year, his boss called. Boudwin thought his ordeal was over and the FDIC had granted the waiver. Instead, his boss told him he was being fired. The bank was tired of waiting, he said his boss told him. Two weeks later, the FDIC granted the waiver, but Bank of America refused to reinstate Boudwin to his old position. He was welcome to reapply, but his seniority, bonus and back pay would be lost.
Unfortunately for Bank of America, Boudwin decided that appealing as competing to come in as a first year employee sounded, he’d prefer to win the money owed to him in court, and filed suit against BofA last week. Will his case set a precedent for financial services employees wrongfully fired over misunderstandings at Denny’s, IHOP, OHOP, Waffle House and local diners everywhere? Stay tuned.