Woman claims she lost her job at US Bank over selling 'Visa cards'

By Kelly Holleran | Feb 2, 2010

A woman claims her bosses at U.S. Bank wrongly terminated her because she reported the company's alleged fraudulent activity in training its employees.

Jennifer Shea filed a lawsuit Jan. 21 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against U.S. Bank, Joyce Murra and Shirley Koenig.

Shea claims she worked for U.S. Bank, and as part of her employment, promoted and sold Visa credit cards to the bank's customers.

During her attempts to sell the credit cards, Shea referred to them as Visa cards as she had been taught to do in training with the bank, according to the complaint. However, on Dec. 31, 2007, Murra wrote Shea up and Shea lost her incentive bonus because Murra alleged U.S. Bank customers were unaware they were receiving credit cards when Shea promoted them as Visa cards. Instead, the customers believed they were purchasing gift cards, the suit states.

"After the aforementioned meeting, Jennifer Shea contested her write-up and loss of bonus to Shirley Koenig and explained that if selling 'Visa cards' was fraudulent, then U.S. Banks' training and current methods used by other employees were fraudulent," the complaint says. "Shirley Koenig initially informed Jennifer Shea she was terminated and then subsequently told Jennifer Shea to go home until they could figure out what to do with her."

Following the meeting with Koenig, Shea claims she spoke with a U.S. Bank human resource department representative to inform him of her situation. He agreed that employees were illegally using the term Visa card in reference to a Visa credit card, according to the complaint.

Subsequently, Shea learned she would receive her bonus, and she was informed she could continue to use the term Visa card when trying to sell the credit cards, the suit states.

However, Shea told Koenig that U.S. Bank human resource representatives advised selling the cards in such a way constituted fraud and illegal activity, the complaint says.

"After Jennifer Shea's reports of U.S. Bank's fraudulent and illegal activity in training employees in sales of 'Visa Credit Cards' and continuing to allow employees to state 'Visa Cards' while selling 'Visa Credit Cards,' Jennifer Shea was terminated on January 22, 2008," the suit states. "Jennifer Shea's discharge from her employment with U.S. Bank is causally related to Jennifer Shea's report of U.S. Bank's fraudulent and illegal activity to her supervisors and to the Human Resources Department."

Murra and Koenig allegedly based their rationale for Shea's firing on an incident in which Shea ran her own transaction on Dec. 14, 2007, but Shea contends such a reasoning is invalid.

"This alleged first incident was not a valid basis for termination based upon Jennifer Shea's work record and was merely a pretext for termination," the suit states.

Because of her discharge, Shea says she should be awarded lost wages and fringe benefits, plus damages for pain and suffering.

In her three-count suit, Shea seeks a judgment of more than $150,000, plus other costs the court deems just.

Michael J. Brunton of Brunton Law Offices in Collinsville will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-28.

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