Johnny Burris, a former investment advisor at JP Morgan, lost his job after complaining that the firm pressured him to sell high-priced company products to mostly elderly clients. The firm admitted wrongdoing for engaging in similar practices that caused “significant harm” to clients, three years later. Mr. Burris accused the bank of pressuring him to put elderly clients’ retirement savings into high-commission bank products that were inappropriate for them. Subsequently, he complained that he was being pushed to breach fiduciary duty for those clients, and the bank fired him in November 2012. According to whistleblower laws, JP Morgan could be forced to give him back pay, and possibly other compensatory damages. Before the case was settled, however, a string of attorneys and investigators were fired from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), making it difficult for the whistleblower program to be considered effective. The handling of the Burris complaint is the most recent example of a problem within OSHA and its failure to protect whistleblowers. Another recent complaint within OSHA is the fact that Wells Fargo opened more than two million accounts for clients who had not authorized them. Because of this, the Department of Labor stated it would investigate its whistleblower program nationwide.
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