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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Spider's Lair, Part I

 Slander and Harassment 

In February 2007, Priority One Credit Union hired D. Centeno to replace former Van Nuys Branch Manager, Sylvia Perez, who had been promoted to Assistant Vice President ("AVP") and transferred to the Burbank branch. 

Director of Human Resources, AVP, Rodger Smock, produced and distributed fliers to all branches announcing the hiring of Mr. Centeno who according to Mr. Smock, possessed extensive banking experience and qualities which the credit union believed would contribute to increasing new business throughout the San Fernando Valley. Those who came to know Mr. Centeno described him as the consummate professional, possessing tremendous knowledge of banking procedures.

Under Priority One's procedures and policies, all new managers and before they can begin working at their assigned branch, must attend classes conducted at the main branch in South Pasadena. The classes orientate managers to the credit union's philosophy, mission, policies and procedures. Because of training, Mr. Centeno did not report to work at the Van Nuys branch for approximately 2 weeks. 

When Mr. Centeno did finally report to the Van Nuys branch, he almost immediately experienced difficulties with the branches two most senior employees, Neelam Verma, the Assistant Branch Manager, and Lillian Valladares, an FSR. 

The relationship between Mr. Centeno and the two employees grew strained when he discovered they were not following state mandated banking procedures and violating state law. What's more, they were leaving the credit union vulnerable to potential losses. 

Mr. Centeno also discovered that Mrs. Valladares was arbitrarily reversing NSF fees without first obtaining authorization from her supervisor. He also discovered that Mrs. Valladares had frequently failed to review mandated ATM and NSF reports. 

The two employees contacted Mrs. Perez who they had worked under for several years, and accused Mr. Centeno of being unduly difficult. Mrs. Perez grew irate because the issues Mr. Centeno discovered were all attributable to her. While serving as Branch Manager, she never taught her staff proper, state-mandated procedures. What's more,  she had allowed them to violate credit union banking policies. 

After Mrs. Valladares and Mrs. Verma complained to Mrs. Perez, the AVP drove to the Van Nuys office and during her meeting with Mr. Centeno, informed him that "the knowledge your brought from your former corporate environment will not be tolerated." 

Fueled by anger and we suspect, a fear that the credit union would discover that she failed to implement to provide her staff with the proper training and knowledge needed to carryout their assigned responsibilities. Mrs. Perez next launched a scathing attack against Mr. Centeno, fabricating accusations which disparaged his abilities and which AVP, Rodger Smock, allowed her to use in sealing Mr. Centeno's ouster. 

Mrs. Perez has established a well-earned reputation for having little self-control. She is known to be hyper, nervous, emotionally volatile, aggressive, impatient and highly vindictive. She also likes to declare that she is highly religious bit her alleged religiosity is not attested to by her behaviors. 
Despite the irrational response by Mrs. Valladares and Mrs. Verman, Mr. Centeno tried to resolve the differences with the two women but they refused, remaining uncooperative with their new supervisor. 

Mr. Centeno contacted Mrs. Perez and asked if she could schedule to meet with him, Mrs. Valladares, and Mrs. Verma in what he described as an effort to resolve the personnel problems he was experiencing. He also asked if the President and Mr. Smock could be present. Mrs. Perez told him she would contact the President and Mr. Smock and would call him back with a date and time when they could all meet. 

The following day, Mrs. Perez called Mr. Centeno and advised him that the meeting he requested would take place at the main branch in South Pasadena on June 18, 2007.

On June 18, 2007, Mr. Centeno arrived at the South  Pasadena branch and asked to go to the office of Rodger Smock. When he arrived in Mr. Smock's office, only Sylvia Perez was present. Mr. Centeno was informed that the President, Mrs. Valladares and Mrs. Verma were unable to attend. Mr. Centeno was informed by Mr. Smock that it had been decided by President Wiggington to end his employment immediately. He was handed a Warning Notice containing a list of allegations lodged against him by the credit union. This included an accusation that he failed to issue a performance evaluation in a timely manner for an employee named Lourdes. The notice, written by Mrs. Perez, stated that the evaluation was submitted 4 weeks late. On May 12, 2007, Mr. Perez allegedly ordered Mr. Centeno to produce a performance evaluation. The evaluation was completed on June 5, 2007, which is less than 4 weeks and thus not late. 

What's more, Mr. Centeno had been employed by the credit union for more than 90-days and under the credit union's procedures, he was to have received a performance evaluation no later than the 90th day of his employment. Obviously, Mrs. Perez was late and violated the same policy she was enforcing. What's more, Rodger Smock allowed Mrs. Perez to document allegations that were clearly untrue and failed to address Mrs. Perez's own violation. In a memorandum dated, January 8, 2008, issued by Vice President of Operations, Rodger Smock, and issued to "All Members of management and Staff", he stated: 
All performance reviews must be completed within a reasonable time frame following the end of the review period. Reasonable time frame is defined as 1-2 pay periods following the end of the review date. Completed is defined as performance review has been discussed, signed and original sent to Human

Resources (copy should be given to respective employee).
Mr. Centeno did not violate the credit union's policy though Mrs. Perez clearly failed to complete her evaluation of Mr. Centeno in a timely manner. Furthermore, the credit union's own records prove that many managers issue performance evaluations long after the 4-week timeframe has passed.  Records show that often, evaluations are completed six to twelve months after they are due. 

Mrs. Perez's Warning Notice also accused Mr. Centeno of failing to respond in a timely manner to a complaint filed by a member who alleged her $200 deposit had never been credited to her checking account. 

The complaint was filed immediately after Mr. Centeno was hired and while he was in training in South Pasadena. He could not have been aware of the member's complaint. What's more, the complaint should have been responded to by either the Assistant Branch Manager, Neelam Verma, or AVP, Sylvia Perez. 

Mrs. Perez purposely alleged a violation of policy that Mr. Centeno never committed. What's more, Mr. Smock chose not to address the apparent distortions of facts presented by Mrs. Perez and suggesting that he was involved in a plot to terminate Mr. Centeno. 

This is not the first time the President and his cronies have conducted a sham meeting to persecute employees. The plot forged against Mr. Centeno is typical of President Wiggington's mode of administration which resorts to the use of unscrupulous and unethical tactics intended to disparage and wound employee reputations. 

President Wiggington has stripped away the dignity that once characterized the credit union and has transformed its former business environment into a soap opera saturated with intrigue and far flung backstabbing. 

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A. Gant was taught to process loans. He was also not bonded. Seems to me it is the people above him at the branch and maybe even whoever hired him from hr who should have been fired.

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