More than 5,000 Wells Fargo workers were fired in the phony-accounts scam that's rocked the company—but they weren't the only ones who got pink slips. CNNMoney reports it spoke with a handful of ex-workers who say they were terminated after raising the red flag about the bank's unethical activities, including by calling the company's ethics hotline set up for just that purpose and meant to protect whistleblowers. "They ruined my life," says Bill Bado, a former worker who notes he called the hotline and wrote an email to HR in September 2013 and was fired for tardiness eight days after sending it. The ex-employees say their firings all followed that pattern, with trumped-up charges of being late or other misdeeds. "I endured harsh bullying … defamation of character, and eventually being pinned for something I didn't do," says Heather Brock, canned this month for falsifying documents (she denies it).
An anonymous ex-HR worker backs up these claims, telling CNN there was a system in place to get back at those who spoke up, with the company keeping a close eye on whistleblowers until it could find something petty to pin on them to lead to termination. "If this person was supposed to be at the branch at 8:30am and they showed up at 8:32am, they would fire them," he says. One woman says she was fired even after emailing CEO John Stumpf directly about what she thought were shady sales tactics. Wells Fargo's response regarding these allegations: "We do not tolerate retaliation against team members who report their concerns in good faith," a rep says, noting concerned employees can talk to their bosses or HR … or call the ethics hotline. (Fortune documents stories from two other ex-employees that sound strikingly similar.)