Agency tasked with investigating discrimination accused of discrimination

The federal agency tasked with investigating allegations of discrimination in consumer financial transactions was accused of discriminatory treatment of its own employees in a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday.

Angela Martin, a senior enforcement attorney with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), alleged that a ring of managers within the CFPB favors men over women in promotions, performance reviews, and the work place environment.

“I am a victim of discrimination by the bureau dating back to May 2012, and I have suffered severe retaliation since December 2012, which continues through today,” Martin said during an emotional testimony. “Sadly, my story is not unique. My colleagues likewise have suffered and are suffering at the hands of inexperienced, unaccountable managers. I am glad this hearing is being held because, based on my observations at the Bureau, I have concluded that the Bureau is sorely in need of effective oversight, and that Bureau management needs to be held accountable, particularly with regards to its internal management practices.”

Martin said that after she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity office within CFPB, her manager retaliated against her by informing her that her subordinates would now report to him. He then threatened to bring counter claims, took away investigative duties, and held her responsible for work she hadn’t done, said Martin.

She said there is a ring of upper level managers in the CFPB division she works in — the consumer responses division led by Scott Pluta — engages in behavior which discriminates against females and minorities. During her testimony, Martin said she had been told that Pluta was “developing his own empire within the office of consumer responses within the CFRP.”

Martin charged that Pluta hoped to fill the office of consumer responses with cronies and so-called “yes men” who would do anything he asked — because they all were thankful for the opportunity he was giving them.

The CFRP didn’t send a representative to the meeting to defend its conduct, saying this was a private personnel matter, but Martin countered that Pluta had on at least one occasion referred to an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint she had filed during a staff meeting.

TheDC reported earlier this week on a report from the Senator Chuck Grassley’s office about the Obama administration routinely violating non-disclosure protections for whistleblowers.

The hearing made waves before it even began. On March 31, Reps. Maxine Waters and Al Green asked for the hearing be called off in a letter to committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling and Investigations and Oversight Sub-Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry.

Waters and Green argued in their letter that there is systemic discrimination throughout the financial regulatory sphere, and the CFPB was unfairly being singled out.

In the letter, Waters and Green suggested that Inspector General’s Office overseeing each of the federal regulatory agencies should conduct an investigation, but Martin said she went to the IGs Office at the Federal Reserve Bank and the IGs office told her the IG’s office didn’t handle her type of complaint.