(Corrects paragraph one to show agency is in process of hiring
firm instead of has hired, corrects paragraph 12 to show process
has not been completed)
By Margaret Chadbourn
WASHINGTON, March 7 The U.S. Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau is hiring an outside firm to study fairness in
its employees' performance ratings, the agency said on Friday in
response to concerns about discrimination.
The CFPB came under scrutiny after the American Banker, a
trade publication that covers the U.S. financial service
industry, reported this week that the agency's own data showed
white employees were twice as likely to receive a top rating in
2013 than African-American or Hispanic employees.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday
demanded information from the agency about its internal
management practices, specifically how employees are treated and
rated, to ensure a culture of workplace discrimination does not
The CFPB oversees mortgages, credit cards and other
consumer-oriented financial products.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling
of Texas and two fellow Republicans made the request in a letter
to the bureau.
"Fewer than half of bureau employees are satisfied with the
policies and practices of senior leaders," they wrote in
reference to the results of the agency's 2013 annual employer
survey. "Fewer than half of bureau employees agree that
promotions and pay raises at the bureau are based on merit."
The Republican lawmakers expressed concerns about a number
of formal discrimination claims that were filed by CFPB staff on
the basis of factors, which can include race, age, and religion.
The CFPB said on Friday that since August 2013, it has
received 115 official grievances from its labor organization,
the National Treasury Employees Union. Of those, 73 were pending
grievances, and 42 had been resolved, were in the process of
being resolved, or were not advanced by the union.
The agency had 1,302 employees at the end of September 2013,
the end of its fiscal year.
"We hold ourselves to the standards of fairness that we
expect of the companies and industries we regulate," said Sam
Gilford, an agency spokesman. "We are fully committed to making
sure that our talented and diverse staff are treated fairly."
He said the federal bureau initially detected differences in
employee ratings through an internal analysis at the end of the
year and consulted the union.
The bureau has been conducting "deeper analysis," Gilford
said, and would be using an outside firm to examine the employee
ratings process. He declined to comment further.
"If the ongoing review finds problems, we will be proactive
about taking appropriate corrective actions," said Gilford.
About 47 percent of the agency's staffers were women, and 34
percent identified themselves as minorities, according to an
agency report to Congress last year.
The agency was more diverse than other federal regulators,
where women accounted for 44 percent and minorities accounted
for 29 percent of staff, the report showed.
Republicans have harshly opposed the consumer agency, which
was created by the 2010 financial reform law known as the
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. They
have made numerous attempts to weaken and defund the regulator.
Democrats have staunchly supported the agency's
(Reporting By Margaret Chadbourn; Editing by Karey Van Hall and