U.S. Bank said Friday night that it has offered to rehire both the Portland employees it fired for helping a customer on Christmas Eve, and that one of the two has accepted the offer.
The other, however, says she has yet to receive a formal offer from the bank and wants it to take additional steps to rectify the situation before she considers returning.
U.S. Bank attracted national criticism after The Oregonian/OregonLive reported the company had fired a Portland customer service representative and her supervisor.
The customer service rep, Emily James, came to the rescue of a client whose paycheck had been placed on hold by the bank. The customer, Marc Eugenio, was at a gas station on Christmas Eve and couldnâ€™t access his funds to buy gas. So James drove to the station and gave him $20.
A week later, on New Yearâ€™s Eve, U.S. Bank fired both James and her supervisor, Abigail Gilbert. The bank initially said it was against corporate policy to discuss personnel matters but later blamed James for the situation, saying she broke the rules and put her safety in danger, and that she had a history of disciplinary issues.
U.S. Bank steadfastly defended its decision until last Saturday, when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published a stinging critique of the firings. Kristof wrote that the bankâ€™s accusations against James appeared unsubstantiated.
Late Saturday night, more than a month after the firings but just hours after Kristofâ€™s column appeared, U.S. Bank CEO Andy Cecere reversed the bankâ€™s position and apologized for the firings. He promised â€œI will fix this.â€
The bank said Friday that it has offered to rehire both James and her supervisor, Abigail Gilbert.
â€œU.S. Bank fell short of our and othersâ€™ expectations and we sincerely apologize,â€ the bank said in a written statement to The Oregonian/OregonLive. The bank said Cecere has spoken to both James and Gilbert and asked them to return to the company.
â€œWe are committed to understanding how we can learn from these events and make the right changes so they do not reoccur,â€ the bank said.
U.S. Bank said Gilbert has agreed to return to work next week as a call center supervisor. The company said James is considering a return, too.
Gilbert couldnâ€™t immediately be reached for comment Friday. James, however, said she has not actually received a formal offer.
â€œIt would be hard to go back given the defamatory comments that were made about me,â€ James wrote Friday in a text message to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
â€œThey would also have to make things right with Marc (Eugenio, the customer she helped) before I could consider any offer,â€ James wrote. â€œAll offers have to go through my attorney and U.S. Bank has yet to respond to his correspondence with them.â€
— Mike Rogoway | firstname.lastname@example.org | twitter: @rogoway | 503-294-7699
— Samantha Swindler; email@example.com; @editorswindler
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