(Adds link to story on CFPB review of its employee ratings)
By Emily Stephenson
WASHINGTON May 20 U.S. consumer bureau
officials were slow to fix performance reviews that were unfair
to minority and older employees, despite complaints, a union
leader will tell lawmakers on Wednesday.
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has
admitted that black and Hispanic employees, workers over the age
of 40 and others were more likely to receive ratings below the
top score in reviews used to set merit raises in 2012 and 2013.
Ben Konop, a CFPB enforcement attorney and a leader of its
union chapter, plans to tell lawmakers that, while top officials
recently moved to fix the problem, they were not responsive when
the union first identified suspected gaps in September 2013.
A CFPB spokesman said the bureau's pay system is applied
consistently and does not consider factors such as race and
The bureau also denied attempts by about 15 women and
minority employees to show that they were paid less than
similarly situated white male coworkers, Konop said in prepared
testimony for a House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday.
The spokesman said the cases Konop referenced are still in
the grievance process, but the bureau had so far found that the
individuals' pay was fair.
"Unfortunately, I've ... witnessed bureau management
struggle, at times, to live up to the mission, ideals and
achievements of the CFPB," Konop said in the remarks seen by
Reuters to be delivered to a financial services subcommittee.
The bureau came under heavy criticism from lawmakers after
apparent disparities in reviews became public in March.
On Monday, officials said they began to investigate after
they heard about the problems and quickly decided to scrap the
review system and work on a new one with the union.
After subsequent internal analysis showed several categories
of employees were disadvantaged, officials said they would
retroactively compensate people who received middling reviews in
2012 and 2013 as if they had gotten top marks.
Konop said these changes show "the bureau has made a solid
first step in the process of holding itself accountable."
The House financial services panel also heard on April 2
from a CFPB attorney who said she faced gender discrimination
and was retaliated against when she reported it.
The bureau had hired an outside firm to investigate, and the
resulting report said attorney Angela Martin had experienced
retaliation. The bureau disputed the findings.
Liza Strong, who heads labor and employee relations at the
CFPB, said in testimony for Wednesday's hearing that her office
found no evidence of discrimination. She said the CFPB settled
with Martin and created new positions for her on two occasions.
The bureau declined to participate in the April hearing,
saying it could not comment on Martin's case because it was
still in the grievance process. The House panel issued subpoenas
to compel officials to participate on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson. Editing by Andre Grenon)