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U.S. Bank to review firing of 2 employees who broke rules to help customer

The Minneapolis-based bank was the subject of a scathing column in the New York Times.

The CEO of U.S. Bank has vowed to make changes after a controversy that saw two of his employees fired for helping a customer outside of approved channels.

The efforts of the workers and their subsequent firing at the hands of the Minneapolis-based bank was the subject of a scathing column by New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof at the weekend.

It relates to the story of Oregon's Marc Eugenio, who was waiting for a $1,080 paycheck he had deposited to clear so he could buy his kids Christmas presents, only to find the bank had put a hold on most of the amount.

He then ran out of gas on Christmas Eve, and, finding his bank balance still empty, he called a U.S. Bank call center for help. 

One of the workers, Emily James, learned that despite Eugenio being told the money would be released before Christmas, this wasn't the case. To help him out, she drove out to the gas station he was at and lent him $20.

This, U.S. Bank said, put herself and the bank at unnecessary risk and led to the firing of both James and her line manager. 

Kristof tweeted an update after the article went live on Saturday, saying that U.S. Bank CEO Andrew Cecere had called him to say, "I will fix this," and had also reached out to James.

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On Monday, the bank published a statement on its website from Cecere, saying that the firing in Oregon "does not reflect who we are as a company."

Cecere said the company will be looking to review its policies and make changes "that align with our values and our commitment to both customers and employees."

"It is important to acknowledge our mistakes and when we fall short of our own high expectations. I take full responsibility," Cecere said.

"This weekend, after personally speaking with the employees involved I have a better understanding of their motivations and don’t think we got this one quite right. I am committed to working with these employees and others on the team to understand how we can do better."

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