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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Banishment and Slander


Few who have come to know Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. could ever deny that he is a man of who loves indulging in conversations about himself though his subjects of conversation are often extremely limited and rarely related to business. His three favorite topics are his alleged sexual prowess, his uncommon and superior intellect, and what he sincerely believes is his seemingly impeccable character. He loves expounding unendingly about his high standards which apparently, no one can live up to. If one were to choose to believe what he says at face value, then Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is indeed superior and more evolved than most people. .

During meetings with managers, he often states that employees who fail to attain his stipulated performance standards will not receive raises. No doubt, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is a harsh taskmaster though ironically, he is the one person at the credit union who is most incapable of satisfying his own lofty standards. .

The President demonstrates a chronic and insatiable proclivity to judge and condemn others. In July 2008, he was suspended following accusations by a former employee, that he sexually harassed her for a period of several years. During what would be an 8-week suspension, his son Charles "Chuckie" Wiggington, Jr. temporarily worked at the credit union's main branch in South Pasadena along with other high school aged children of employees, who were hired to empty and box member files kept in the credit union's storage room. Each day, Chuckie would loudly tell his co-workers that his father wanted nothing to do with the employees of the credit union who according to Chuckie, were "untrustworthy", "back stabbers" and "low class." Evidently, Chuckie shares the same insatiable proclivity to gossip as does his father. 

Following an almost 8-week suspension, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. was found guilty of sexual harassment. Despite what could have been a humbling experience, he returned to work unchanged, loudly proclaiming that he intended to go after the people who provided an investigator statements that attested that the President had indeed, sexually harassed a former female employee. 

Despite the evidence presented by the investigator, Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, Directors, O. Glen Saffold and Thomas Gathers, and Supervisory Committee Chair, Cornelia Simmons, all voted for the President's reinstatement. Their vote over-ruled the two dissenting votes from Directors, Janice Irving and Joe Marchica, that urged the President's termination. 

In the days following his reinstatement, the President told Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, and CFO, Manny Gaitmaitan, that he knew for a fact that some of his staff were "out to get him" because this unnamed group of conspirators were envious and jealous that he had been appointed president. He tried in earnest to convince the two officers that this group of rebels were trying to undermine his authority and attempting to commit subterfuge to destroy the credit union. Within a few weeks following his reinstatement, his accusations were being echoed by Human Resources "clerk", Esmeralda Sandoval who threatened employees who discussed this blog while at work and who said "they are trying to destroy the credit union.:" So is Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. the victim of a network of secret conspirators or is he the real conspirator who has slandered employees, injured employee morale and injured the credit union's relationship with its members? 


Maggie Rios, had been employed by the credit union for sixteen and a half years. More than thirteen of those years were spent serving in the capacity of Marketing Director. 

In October 2006, immediately following the Board's announcement that then Vice President of Operations, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., would succeed William E. Harris as President and CEO of the then successful and growing credit union, the Vice President of Operations
told the then Lending Director, Aaron Cavazos; Rodger Smock the then VP of Human Resources; Liz Campos the then Burbank Branch Manager; Georgina Duenas the Consumer Lead Loan Teller; and Gema Pleitez, the South Pasadena Branch Manager, that 
he intended on terminating all of "Harris' people" including Maggie Rios. Mrs. Rios confronted the Vice President as soon as she learned about what he had said and he adamantly denied that he planned on terminating her and assured her that her employment was secure and would remain unchanged. 

On January 1, 2007, Mr. Wiggington, Sr. became the new President and CEO of Priority One and on January 4, 2007, he conducted several meetings with staff at the South Pasadena branch, informing them of the changes he was implementing to the credit union's corporate structure. During each meeting, he distributed flow charts delineating what he described as "corporate restructuring." Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. had been employed for 16 years on the date he assumed the role as President, yet apparently he seemed glib to the fact that Priority One is not a corporation. 

In the chart he distributed, Maggie Rios had been demoted and was to report director to the new AVP of Lending, Aaron Cavazos despite the fact Mr. Cavazos had no experience or education in anything related to marketing. Furthermore, many employees were surprised by her reassignment because it was widely known that Mr. Cavazos held Mrs. Rios in disdain and had spent years disparaging her reputation to his staff in the Loan Department. 

Two weeks following Mr. Wiggington's appointment to President, Mr. Cavazos informed Mrs. Rios that she was being stripped of her title of Director of Marketing and would from thereon serve in the capacity of Marketing Coordinator. She was also informed that President Wiggington had decided to eliminate the Marketing Department and replace it instead, with a marketing committee that would be headed by the wholly unqualified, Mr. Cavazos. Mrs. Rios would begin serving as a member of the marketing committee who would select as a group, language and graphics for impending promotions. Mrs. Rios was also informed that she was prohibited from conferring with the credit union's contracted marketing agency, Andamahr and Company or with vendors, even those with whom she had established long standing relationships. Mr. Cavazos explained that  only he, Patti Loiacano, the Assistant to the Director of Lending or Georgina Duenas, the Lead Consumer Loan Officer, would be authorized to speak to the marketing agency and all vendors. 

A few days later, Mr. Cavazos informed Mrs. Rios that she must vacate her executive office which Mr. Wiggington, Sr. had reassigned to Mr. Cavazos. He explained that due to a lack
of space in the so-called, "executive sector, she would have to relocate her desk to the back of the corporate offices where the dusty old file room and business development department were located. Though that area was recently remodeled, on the day Mrs. Rios relocated to that wing, the area contained dust covered desks piled by documents and files from the DMV and Card Services departments. The carpets were old and stained and hadn't been cleaned in years and the area was strewn with old metal filing cabinets that were haphazardly placed on one side of the room.

Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.'s order to relocate Mrs. Rios to the back offices was an act of vengeance and a way to strike out at his predecessor. His intent was to humiliate Mrs. Rios so that she would voluntarily resign. However, his efforts were enabled with the help of Rodger Smock, Aaron Cavazos, Esmeralda Sandoval, and Georgina Duenas. However, the President's vindictive act was short-lived. Several employees stepped forward and complained, labeling his decision unconscionable and prompting the President to reverse his decision and instead, return Mrs. Rios to the executive wing where he assigned her a desk located just outside her former office. 

Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.'s elimination of the Marketing Department was an elaborate and quite frankly, an emotionally driven ploy by which to oust the people who had once loyally served his former President, William E. Harris. A portion of the evidence to this lies in the fact that he replaced a prize-winning Marketing Director and its highly experienced Director, with a marketing committee populated by staff who had absolutely no experience with anything related to marketing. Furthermore, the committee's only task was consigned to selecting graphics and language for planned promotions. Thank, unbeknownst to President Wiggington is advertising not marketing. Marketing requires a knowledge needed to study one’s marketplace which entails knowing how to obtain data from your market. None of the members of the committee can do this because quite simply, they don't possess the abilitiy to do so. 

What's also interesting is that one of the committee's members, Georgina Duenas, the Lead Consumer Loan Officer, has been the subject of numerous employee complaints regarding her apparent chronic violation of Priority One's policies. Fortunately, for Mrs. Duenas, Aaron Cavazos and Rodger Smock, have protected her and excluded her from disciplinary actions described under credit union policy. 

A few weeks after being informed she was being demoted to the position of Marketing Coordinator, Mrs. Rios was called to the office of Rodger Smock who continues to oversee Human Resources. Aaron Cavazos was also present in the meeting during which she was informed that her salary would soon be reduced. Mr. Smock explained that a Marketing Coordinator is not paid as much as a Marketing Director and that once he completed his research, her salary would be adjusted and reduced. 

When some of the board learned of what Mr. Wiggington, Sr. had ordered, they again contacted him and protested his plan to reduce Mrs. Rios salary. Mr. Wiggington, Sr. quickly rescinded his plan and assured the board her salary would not be reduced. Rodger later spoke to Mrs. Rios and said that Mr. Wiggington, Sr. had ordered that her salary not be reduced.

Again, when advised of what Mr. Wiggington, Sr. planned to do, some members of the board contacted him and lodged complaint against his intended action. Mr. Wiggington, Sr. thereafter ordered that her salary not be reduced.

A few days later, Maggie Rios overheard a representative of the Human Resources Department, whose desk was located directly behind her own, tell someone on the phone that Mrs. Rios was being removed from her exempt status and would from hereon, be required to clock-in and out like all other non-exempt employees. After overhearing the comments, she spoke to Rodger Smock who asked if Aaron Cavazos had spoken to her about her change in status. When she informed him that he hadn't and that she had overheard the comments from another employee, Rodger stated that Aaron should have spoken to her. A short time later, Aaron apologized, explaining that he forgot to speak to her and confirmed that she was being stripped of her exempt status.

A few days later, Rodger Smock called Maggie Rios to his office though time she to inform her that after careful review and due to the implementation of the new Marketing Committee, her services were no longer needed. She was immediately laid-off and asked to clean out her desk.

The campaign against Mrs. Rios was obvious. The intent appears to have been, to drive her away and possibly force her to resign. The efforts by Mr. Wiggington, Sr. and Mr. Cavazos, were intended to belittle and humiliate her and reduce her self-confidence and to make her feel unwanted. The severance of employment which Mr. Wiggington, Sr. describes as a lay-off was done without any intent of ever recalling Mrs. Rios to the credit union. The termination also occurred after it became apparent that Mrs. Rios could not be forced to resign.

Did Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., the man who now purports to be a victim of embittered employees, have to demote Mrs. Rios, move her out of her former office, attempt to reduce her pay, and remove her from exempt status only to finally terminate her employment of 16 1/2 years? And so, after tremendous abuse and belittlement, Mrs. Rios’ was terminated despite the overwhelming fact that in October 2006, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. verbally assured her that she would not be terminated once he became president and her job was secure. I guess as Mr. Wiggington, Sr. would say, he was “out to get” her… and he did.

In April 2008, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. entered the Loan department and sat down on a love seat located alongside the desk which at the time, was assigned to the VISA Specialist, Suzanne Sunada. Languishing comfortably, with his legs outstretched, Mr. Wiggington, Sr. spoke loudly in the presence of the entire Loan Department staff, stating that he terminated Maggie Rios because she wrote an anonymous letter to former Board Member, David Davidson, exposing Liz Campos, the former AVP, of kiting, which is a FEDERAL offense.
Continuing, he said that the exposure “forced” him to audit Mrs. Campos’s account records and later, terminated her employment by order of William Adler, the credit union attorney.
Doesn’t it seem odd that in his own words, he terminated Mrs. Rios for allegedly exposing Liz Campos of kiting, though the exposure came in the form of an unsigned letter mailed to former board member, David L. Davidson. What is the evidentiary foundation which helped Mr. Wiggington, Sr. conclude that Mrs. Rios wrote the letter mailed to Mr. Davidson? There is none. His conclusion is nothing more than unbased conjecture.

If Mr. Wiggington, Sr. terminated Mrs. Rios because she allegedly exposed Liz Campos of kiting, then his actions violate state and federal statutes which protect employees who expose wrong doing, from retaliation. Whistle blowers are protected by state law thus making it illegal to retaliate against any person who exposes wrongdoing in a company.
Based on Mr. Wiggington, Sr.'s own words and actions, he terminated Maggie Rios because she was one of "Harris' people"; "because she allegedly exposed Liz Campos of violating federal law; and because he was not going to allow her to tell him what to do." None of his reasons support his later excuse to Diedra Harris-Brooks, that Maggie was terminated because of his "new vision" for the credit union. So based solely on his own words, Mrs. Rios was terminated as an act of vengeance. But wait! Isn't this what he alleges some unnamed group of credit union employees is doing to him? Hypocrisy, I dare say.
On 12/28/07, Mr. Wiggington, Sr. called Susan Sunada and Patti Loiacano to his office. During the brief meeting which followed he attributed his appointment to his avarice and cunning. He loudly exclaimed, "I played the game and won" and "I beat the others." And the board thought they selected him because of his alleged abilities and knowledge. His statement also reveals that he believes he somehow manipulated the board.

During this same conversation, he described Mrs. Rios as "The one who complained isn't here anymore. Do you see her?" The latter is a reference to her termination.

During the meeting, the 50-some year old Mr. Wiggington, Sr., described Mr. Harris as "old school" and accused his predecessor of having been jealous of Mr. Wiggington, Sr.'s plans to change the way Priority One conducts business.

He also described the merger with Inland Counties Postal Credit Union as orchestrated by Mr. Harris, as a "bad move" and which as a result, he forced him to spend "many months” cleaning up Mr. Harris' mess."

He also told the two women that he took PEMCO from Lynnette Fortson, the AVP overseeing the LAPDC branch but reinstated it soon thereafter, to "keep her mouth shut because its more trouble than it is worth."

Charles proceeded to tell Suzanne that after being promoted to Assistant Vice President, Liz Campos visited his office and told him she felt that Maggie Rios, who had been demoted, was “out to get her.” He told Suzanne that Maggie never liked Liz (though it was Maggie’s recommendation which resulted in Liz’s promotion to Branch Manager of Priority One’s Burbank branch).

One other conspicuous fact is that Charles' willingly and knowingly chose to violate the rules governing confidentiality at Priority One. There is no justifiable reason why he disclosed what he did to Mrs. Sunada and Mrs. Loiacano or why he verbalized his comments in the presence of the employees of the Loan Department.

In July 2008, Attorney William Adler received an anonymous letter alleging wrong doing committed by Mr. Wiggington, Sr. Mr. Adler contacted Diedra Harris-Brooks who afterwards, called Mr. Wiggington, Sr. at his office. When advised about some of the contents contained in the letter, Mr. Wiggington, Sr. exclaimed that he terminated Maggie Rios because of his "new vision" for the Marketing Department. His statement to Mrs. Harris-Brooks contradicts his other statements describing the reasons why he terminated Mrs. Rios. Based on what are a variety of reasons verbalized by the President, Mrs. Rios was actually terminated for one of the following reasons:   
  1. Mrs. Rios allegedly wrote an anonymous letter exposing Liz Campos of kiting.
  2. While Mr. Harris was President, Maggie allegedly told Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. what to do and he was not going to tolerate this after becoming president.
  3. Mr. Wiggingon, Sr. had new plans for the Marketing Department (which included replacing Mrs. Rios, an experienced Marketing Director, with a committee whose members had no prior experience or education in marketing).
  4. None of the above.
  5. All of the above.
In July 2008, Maggie Rios mailed a letter to attorney, William Adler. The letter, sent via Certified Mail, made reference to several acts committed by Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. while she was an employee of Priority One. It must be noted that Mr. Adler nor any member of the board or Supervisory Committee has ever responded to Mrs. Rios. The refusal to respond to her letter reveals much about the character (or lack of character) of Priority One's attorney, members of the Board, and the Supervisory Committee. Though each has a judiciary responsibility to members and employees, they have instead opted to contribute to the perpetuation of Mr. Wiggington, Sr.'s acts by ignoring, circumventing, and squashing the facts- many of which prove overt violations of credit union policy and the state and Federal law.

Someone might argue that the board was objective and its intents evidenced by their hiring of an investigator who interviewed several credit union employees to determine if sexual harassment had actually been committed by Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. Yes, one could argue intent, but REMEMBER, Diedra Harris-Brooks, the chairperson and board members O. Glen Saffold and Thomas Gathers as well as Supervisor Committee member, Cornelia Simmons, all fought- and fought they did, to reinstate Mr. Wiggington, Sr. The magnitude of their efforts is measured by their unbridled squashing of the evidence whose importance was diminished to fit their revamped interpretation of what actually constitutes sexual harassment under federal law. Recall what I wrote in a previous post, this is preserving the status quo. What's more, if the evidence was in fact unsubstantial in proving sexual harassment, why then did the board later offer former employee and victim, Kim Burke, $20,000.00 to settle the complaint she filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing?

Evidently dredging out the truth to ensure the credit union comports itself commensurate to the highest ideals and ethical standards of the credit union industry is unimportant at Priority One Credit Union or at least to some of its shameful and embarrassing board. Here are two excerpts taken from Mrs. Rios' letter written to attorney, William Adler:
Liz Campos: Exposing an AVP of kiting

May I suggest you also re-audit Liz Campos’ records. I am not sure if your initial audit delved into who actually approved the overdrafts which kept Liz from incurring NSF fees. You will discover upon closer inspection that though Charles was not yet the president or CEO, he was the only person who could approve or deny overdrafts for checks written by employees of the credit union which were later returned due to insufficient funds. It was he, alone, who approved the overdraft for each bad check deposited by Liz. How then, can he claim that he had no involvement in the incidents involving Liz’s checks?

Furthermore knowing she had written numerous bad checks and having, himself, approved the overdrafts, he proceeded in promoting her to the position of AVP. I guess her rather extensive record of bounced checks was insufficient evidence to deter him from promoting her. You can also check Human Resources records to verify that Liz was once under my supervision, when she worked as a Business Development Representative of the company. At that time, Charles was aware that she was bouncing checks. In fact, I counseled her about the NSF activity on her account and reminded her that if the problem remained uncorrected, she could be written-up, suspended, or even terminated. Her habit of writing bad checks was not a new development and one Charles was fully aware of long before he was appointed president of Priority One. As I stated previously, while he served as VP of Operations, he was the one who reviewed all reports for NSF activity on employee accounts. Let me be so frank as to add, that any denial by Charles is an outright lie!

Ballot Mailing: Member account & Social Security Numbers Printed on the outside of envelopes containing election ballots.

In 2008 The Board of Directors Election Ballots Contrary to what Charles may allege, he alone is responsible for the incident which occurred in 2007, when ballots for the upcoming Board of Directors elections were mailed out with the account and social security number of our members printed on the outside of the envelopes. He created that debacle when he disregarded the safeguards implemented by Mr. Harris which required that a group of the envelopes be reviewed prior to their mailing, to ascertain that there were no errors. Charles chose not to review any of the envelopes and thus violated security protocols. Of course as is typical of Charles, he found a scapegoat in Alan Santos, who took the fall for what Charles created.

Evidently, from Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.'s perspective, slandering and abusing people is justified while letters mailed to attorney, William Adler, exposing him of sexual harassment and other improprieties are not. Another undeniable fact is that in the history of Priority One Credit Union, allegations of sexual harassment have never been filed by some unnamed group of embittered and jealous employees against any other president. So is Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. victim or a perpetrator? Does his reasoning seem sound or logical; or is this merely behavior characteristic of people who lack understanding of what is moral, ethical and good and who believe the world circulates about their every whim?

Rationalization is a wonderful tool. It can help preserve and protect through subconscious denial, one's sanity.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rereading these old posts its amazing that not only has Charles not changed but the things that were predicted back in 2009 have all come to pass.

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