Wells Fargo will pay up to $16 million to compensate customers who are deaf, have hearing problems or have trouble speaking, the U.S. Justice Department said.
The government said the settlement resolves Americans with Disabilities Act complaints filed by customers with hearing and speech impairments who said the San Francisco-based company would not do business with them over the phone using a telecommunications relay service.
Instead, the customers were directed to call a TTY/TDD line that asked them to leave a message, which went unanswered, the Justice Department said.
The government said Wells Fargo started addressing the concerns before a government investigation began.
Wells Fargo will also pay a $55,000 civil penalty to the federal government. The company is also giving $1 million to nonprofits that assist veterans with disabilities resulting from injuries received while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Justice Department said.
“Individuals who have disabilities must not be denied equal access to the services offered by financial institutions simply because of their disability,” Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a press release. “Wells Fargo has shown that it is committed to equal access and effective communication with its customers who have disabilities.”
Individuals who believe they were harmed by Wells Fargo’s failure to comply with ADA requirements can get information about filing a claim by emailing email@example.com or by calling (866) 708-1273 or (866) 544-5309. Information on the claims process is also at www.ada.gov.