U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and U.S. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) wrote to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Acting Chairman Martin Gruenberg regarding troubling allegations of racial discrimination and fears of retaliation at the FDIC under his previous leadership of the agency.
On September 17, 2018, a group of African American employees wrote to former FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams to express their concerns about the FDIC’s culture over the prior 14 years—much of which occurred under Acting Chairman Gruenberg’s prior stint leading the FDIC.
“For more than half of that time, the FDIC was under your leadership as chairman or acting chairman,” wrote Scott and Toomey. “Chairman McWilliams corrected and improved the agency’s culture in significant ways, but it is essential we understand how the agency functioned prior to changes she implemented in order to prevent a reoccurrence, particularly now that you are again serving as acting chairman.”
The employees’ 2018 letter to the FDIC expressed concerns following the 2004 expiration of a consent decree resulting from a class-action lawsuit brought by African American FDIC employees alleging racial discrimination at the agency. The letter alleged that the FDIC was continuing to discriminate in hiring and that its employees were “afraid to speak out about the issues they are facing for fear of repercussions.”
“Chairman McWilliams successfully changed the environment at the FDIC before she was forced out of office by the unprecedented and improper seizure of her lawful authority by you and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra,” the senators continued. “Her actions as FDIC Chairman included launching programs to improve recruitment and hiring, support first generation professionals in the workplace, develop the next generation of leaders, and more. Her changes to the FDIC’s practices increased representation of minorities across the FDIC workforce and put more minorities and women in management-level positions.”
To better understand the problems that arose and to ensure the FDIC does not revert back to a toxic workplace, Senators Scott and Toomey requested the FDIC turn over all records pertaining to allegations of workplace misconduct by senior officials, as well as any corrective or disciplinary actions related to those complaints, from November 2004 to September 2018.
To read the full letter, click here.