WASHINGTON, March 28 U.S. consumer watchdog on
Friday defended its decision not to attend a hearing next week
on allegations of discrimination, and it criticized an outside
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offered to
brief a U.S. House of Representatives panel in private rather
than appear at a hearing on April 2 that will feature a bureau
employee who says she faced discrimination because of her
gender, a spokesman said.
"The bureau cannot participate in a public hearing that
politicizes our employee grievance process," bureau spokesman
Sam Gilford said in a statement on Friday.
Representative Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican
and the head of the House panel, said a public forum was
necessary to protect CFPB employees from discrimination, in a
letter dated March 21 and viewed by Reuters on Friday.
The ongoing dispute stems from a recent report in the
American Banker, a trade publication, that cited bureau
documents showing managers at the agency rated employees
differently based on race and gender.
Lawmakers from both political parties have called on the
CFPB, which polices consumer financial products, to improve its
practices and asked other financial regulators for information
on their diversity efforts.
The House Financial Services Committee has called a hearing
on the issue. The panel, which is led by Republicans, has long
been critical of the consumer bureau, which they say has too
much authority over financial products.
On Thursday, the committee's oversight panel said its
hearing would feature a CFPB attorney who said she experienced
gender discrimination and was retaliated against when she filed
a formal complaint about her situation.
Misty Raucci, a former investigator with Defense
Investigators Group who looked into the matter at the request of
the CFPB, plans to tell the panel that the attorney, Angela
Martin, was demoted and her work criticized after she filed the
complaint, according to prepared remarks viewed by Reuters.
Gilford said the CFPB found Raucci's report on the situation
invalid because it was based on anonymous sources and because
the subjects of the probe did not have a chance to respond to
allegations made against them.
The House panel asked the bureau's director of employee
relations and head of its equal employment office to appear at
the April 2 hearing. Gilford said the bureau did not think it
was appropriate to discuss in public a case that involved other
employees and was still in the grievance process.
He said the bureau instead offered to have the head of its
minority and women inclusion office attend the hearing to
discuss diversity issues more broadly.
Jeff Emerson, a spokesman for the committee, said the
officials the panel invited were the most knowledgeable about
the subject of the hearing.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Ken Wills)