Ex-Wells Fargo teller says she was wronged
SILVERTHORNE – Keara Polich was on vacation when she learned she and about 15 others had been fired from their jobs as bank tellers at Wells Fargo Bank branches in Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne.
Although some sources close to the situation had alleged the tellers were embezzling, Polich maintains the employees were fired because they regularly performed a procedure they’d been trained to do by the company.
Now, Polich is concerned not only that she’s lost her job, but also that her reputation as an honest employee has been sullied.
Polich, 19, hopes to get her job back after talking with bank officials. But they haven’t returned her calls, she said, so she and her father, Bob, have retained an attorney to clear her name.
At the end of each work day, bank tellers are required to “balance” their cash drawers – making sure the money they took in and the money they disbursed throughout the day balances with what remains in the drawer.
When a teller can’t balance the drawer, a senior teller might re-count the money, and if the origin of the discrepancy still can’t be found, the tellers will usually “write it off” to the bank – recording the discrepancy to be reviewed later.
The origins of such differences are often found when the transactions are verified and put in the system later that evening.
Tellers often write off very small sums of money – for instance, when a coin is found on the ground or customers leave coins on the counter.
At Wells Fargo, Keara Polich claims, tellers were trained to set those coins aside for use on days when their drawers didn’t balance.
When money is used to balance a drawer, it’s called a “forced balance.” A forced balance is not an accepted practice in the banking industry.
But whether or not it’s standard practice is not of concern to Keara Polich or her former co-workers.
“This isn’t an issue of whether that’s right or wrong,” Bob Polich said. “The issue is they were told to do that.”
They were fired for it, too, the younger Polich said.
She had $2.70 set aside when the company conducted an internal audit and discovered that forced balances were a regular practice at the Summit County branches. Other tellers also had small sums set aside when the company conducted the audit.
As a result, Keara Polich says, bank officials fired tellers at each of the county’s Wells Fargo locations. Each branch is still open for business with new tellers from other Wells Fargo branches.
The letter Keara received from bank officials reads in part that an audit had “determined that you forced-balanced a cash drawer, which is a violation of Wells Fargo transaction policies and code of ethics.”
Such falsification of bank records results in termination, the letter continues, and is considered a dishonest act.
“This is obviously not a proper balancing procedure, but the question is, who took the blame for it,” Bob Polich said.
Bank officials also fired the woman who trained Keara Polich and her former co-workers, but she was dismissed in December for an unrelated reason, Keara Polich said.
Wells Fargo officials declined to comment, saying the issue is a internal one.
Keara Polich is attending Colorado Mountain College in hopes of transferring to the University of Colorado at Boulder and majoring in business. Her job at Wells Fargo, she hoped, would help launch her career in banking.
“She really did like the job,” her father said. “But with this on your record, you can’t work in the banking industry, the investment industry.”
Despite the ill-will the firings have created, Keara Polich believes she will be able to get things sorted out and possibly get her job back, which is her ultimate goal.
“Wells Fargo was a great place to work,” her father said. “Keara just loved it there. Hopefully, we can get this sorted out.”
Other Wells Fargo tellers who were let go under the same circumstances as Polich did not return phone calls by press time.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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