A House subcommittee on Tuesday voted to subpoena officials from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and an employees union to testify about allegations of discrimination and retaliation at the agency.
The oversight panel of the House Financial Services Committee is investigating the claims in response to a complaint from CFPB attorney Angela Martin, who accused the agency of gender bias, as well as an independent review that found a pattern of higher performance marks for white employees compared with minorities.
The bureau and the National Treasury Employees Union declined to allow its officials to testify about the matters at a hearing April 2, prompting the subpoena vote Tuesday.
“For the sake of Angela Martin and other CFPB employees who are suffering, our investigation will move forward,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. “All those engaged in reprehensible behavior at the CFPB must be held accountable.”
The bureau has said that discussing specific discrimination and retaliation allegations could violate the rights of workers who file grievances. In response to the independent review, CFPB Director Richard Cordray assured employees in an e-mail that the agency is working on plans to “further our commitment to equality and fairness.”
CFPB spokeswoman Jen Howard said Wednesday that the agency is “committed to ensuring that Congress has the information it needs to conduct oversight,” adding that Cordray told the committee he would be willing to testify about the discrimination concerns.
Cordray also directed the bureau’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion to conduct agency-wide “listening sessions” to learn about barriers to diversity and possible solutions for addressing them. The department is expected to report on its findings within 90 days, Howard said.
NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said Wednesday that she has offered to testify along with another union official about the allegations. “We are unclear why the committee felt the need to vote to subpoena a representative from NTEU,” she said.
Nine Democrats on the Financial Services Committee responded last month to the discrimination allegations by calling on the inspectors general of seven finance-related agencies to determine whether their agencies were exhibiting bias through personnel practices.
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