Panel to probe CFPB discrimination charges

The House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday announced a hearing to investigate claims that a top federal watchdog is discriminating against its own workers.

The panel’s probe of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau follows accusations that the agency is biased in favor of white employees. A story published earlier this month in American Banker concluded that the agency’s managers “show a pattern of ranking white employees distinctly better than minorities in performance reviews used to grant raises and issue bonuses.”

The story, which cited CFPB data, found that whites were twice as likely to receive the agency’s top rating last year than minority workers.

"The revelations uncovered in the American Banker story are extremely troubling,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), chairman of the Financial Services Investigations subcommittee. “Coupled with the significant number of discrimination claims filed by CFPB employees, this raises serious questions about the management of the Bureau.”

McHenry has invited a pair of CFPB officials to testify about the allegations at a hearing slated for next Wednesday. It was not immediately clear whether M. Stacey Bach, the agency’s assistant director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Employment, or Liza Strong, director of Employee Relations, had agreed to appear.

The CFPB, created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law in response to the 2008 financial crisis, has been the subject of fierce criticism from Republicans in general and Financial Service Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling in particular.

Hensarling (R-Texas) and other Republicans have dubbed the agency as one of the government's most powerful — and least accountable — federal agencies because of the way it is structured and funded.