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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Spider's Lair, Part II

Character Assassination

This is the continuing story of a former Business Development Representative named C. Freed who was terminated in early 2007 following a vicious campaign carried out by President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. and which included slandering her reputation, constant harassment, and finally, termination of her employment. 

In 2005, C. Freed was hired as a Business Development Representative ("BDR") because of her extensive past experience in outside sales. Ms. Freed quickly proved to be a highly effective sales person who consistently met her stipulated monthly sales quota. Her hard work consistently made her one of the top performers in her department and she often proved to be a valuable asset to the credit union. Despite her achievements,  then Vice President of Operations, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. disliked the BDR and expressed his contempt of her to various staff members. In fact, in 2006, while speaking about Ms. Freed, he said, "You know those people [Jewish] hate Blacks." He also disclosed that "if I ever become President, I'll make sure she's gone." 

His contempt for her seemed purely emotional and based on his comment about her ethnicity, may have been fueled by racism.  

On January 1, 2007, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. began his new appointment as President and CEO and on January 4, 2007, he announced changes that would include reassigning the Business Development staff. 

Under his plan, C. Freed would be transferred to the Burbank branch and would have to report to the President's friend and newly appointed AVP, Sylvia Perez. At the time, Mrs. Perez informed some of her staff at the Burbank branch that she had been instructed by the President "to watch" Ms. Freed. Apparently, the over-zealous and pandering Mrs. Perez int interpreted his request to imply that she must micromanage C. Freed. Of course, with Mrs. Perez, any order was taken to its zenith and even distorted and she soon began to harass and humiliate C. Freed. 

On January 31, 2007, Ms. Freed was called to the Burbank branch to attend a meeting with her supervisor, AVP Sylvia Perez and AVP, Liz Campos. Prior to the meeting, Ms. Freed was told that the intent of the meeting was to provide clarification about her role in business development and what was expected of her. Evidently, the two not-so-bright, AVP's thought that C. Freed who had been an employee of the credit union for about two-years, had not yet understand what her role was as a BDR. 

During the meeting, Ms. Freed was berated by the two AVP's and questioned about her daily treks into the communities she was assigned to visit. Not only did the two AVP's scrutinize her daily routines but they intently reviewed each one of Ms. Freed's mileage reimbursement requests. After two hours, Ms. Freed was informed that she must return to the Burbank branch on February 2, 2007, to continue the meeting. 

On February 2nd, Ms. Freed returned to the branch, though before the meeting started, she asked Mrs. Perez why Mrs. Campos was participating in the meetings if she was not her supervisor. Mrs. Perez replied, "Because Business Development is all one." Mrs. Perez's statements revealed that the AVP was extremely confused. On January 4, 2007, President Wiggington announced the Business Development team was being divided into two separate groups, each to conduct business in differing regions. Mrs. Perez was to supervise two BDR's, one who would oversee business development in the Santa Clarita Valley and the other who would oversee business development in the San Fernando Valley. Two other BDR's would be supervised by Liz Campos and would oversee business development in the San Gabriel Valley and city of Los Angeles. Obviously, business development was not "one" as asserted by the highly confused Mrs. Perez. 

During the meeting on February 2, 2007, Mrs. Campos took the lead, accusing Ms. Freed of verbally disparaging two employees of the credit union. She also informed Ms. Freed that 
her recently submitted application requesting reduced working hours so that she could take classes at a local college, had not yet been approved by the credit union. Mrs. Campos stated that Ms. Freed's decision to enroll in school conflicted with her role as BDR and that the President doubted she would be able to fulfill her monthly goals. Mrs. Campos explained that the problem with Ms. Freed's request is that classes she hoped to attend are all scheduled Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Though neither AVP participated in the 2005 interview which led to Ms. Freed being hired, both Mrs. Campos and Mrs. Perez insisted that on the day Ms. Freed was hired, she agreed to work Monday though Friday, 8 hours per day, 7 days a week. We doubt the veracity of this statement simply because BDR's are salaried employees who are not paid overtime. And though they may at times work more than 8 hours in a single day, it is illegal for them to be expected to work 7 days per week. Coincidentally, the agreement signed by Ms. Freed on the date she was hired makes no references to working 7 days per week. 

Ms. Freed was also accused of not being a "team player" and Mrs. Campos demanded that she be provided with copies of the class schedule and any syllabus provided by Ms. Freed's professors. We have to point out that Priority One does not reimburse employees education-related costs. What's more Mrs. Campos seemed to have forgotten that her request must be supported by credit union policy. 

Ms. Freed asked the AVP's to provide her with a copy of policy that states she must provide evidence proving she is enrolled in school. Caught unaware, both Mrs. Campos and Mrs. Perez began stuttering simultaneously and Mrs. Perez informed Ms. Freed that she would have to contact Rodger Smock in Human Resources. 

Ms. Freed next informed Mrs. Campos and Mrs. Perez that she had discovered over the past few weeks that they had maligned her reputation to employees of the Burbank and South Pasadena branches and that their statements were untrue and constituted slander which is both illegal and a violation of credit union policy. 

Mrs. Campos called an immediate end ot the meeting and Ms. Freed left the Burbank branch and drove to South Pasadena where she was to create fliers needed to announce an upcoming business development event. While at South Pasadena, Mrs. Perez called and asked employees in the Loan and Member Services Department to confirm if Ms. Freed had arrived and if she was actually working on creating fliers. Mrs. Perez also told employees that President Wiggington wanted Ms. Freed out of "his office as soon as possible" because he did not want her near his staff. The President was evidently confused enough to believe that the South Pasadena office and its staff are "his property." 

On a side note, on February 5, 2007, George Woods, another BDR, visited the South Pasadena branch to print colored fliers for an upcoming event. At no time while he was in the office, did Mrs. Perez call and ask employees to confirm that he was in the office and working. Nor did President Wiggington ever tell employees that he didn't want Mr. Woods in "his office."

On February 5, 2007, Ms. Freed composed a letter, lodging a complaint against Mrs. Campos sand Mrs. Perez. On February 6, 2007, she submitted the letter to Rodger Smock in Human Resources. The contents of C. Freed's letter are shown below. 

I am writing concerning the meeting I was requested to attend on Friday, February 2, 2007, by my supervisor, Sylvia Perez, and the two brief conversations I had with you prior to that meeting. As you were made aware of by Sylvia Perez and Liz Campos, the meeting was scheduled for 2 :00 p.m. on Friday, February 2, 2007.

Mrs. Perez explained that the meeting was intended to continue our conversation of Wednesday, January 31, 2007, during which I asked if a decision had been made concerning the position of branch manager for the Van Nuys branch. Though I had interviewed for the position more than a week earlier, no one had apprised me of a decision. At the time, Ms. Perez nonchalantly stated that the position had been filled. It was then that I advised her that I would not be able to work after 6 p.m., Monday through Fridays, because I am attending classes.

On Monday, January 29, 2007, Mrs. Perez asked to meet with me so that I could provide her with a list of my classes. At the time Mrs. Perez informed me that Liz Campos “might” also attend the meeting. Perplexed why Mrs. Campos would be present in a meeting allegedly intended to discuss my school schedule, I called and asked you if another employee could be present during the meeting. The purpose for request was merely to ensure that whatever was said during the meeting would not later be misconstrued. It was also intended to protect me, as both women represent the management sector while there was no one there to assure that my rights would be defended. You denied my request and when I asked if G. Woods could be present, you stated that he could not be privy to a private matter though I still cannot comprehend why Mrs. Campos was made privy to what you described as a private matter.

During the morning of Friday, February 2nd, I visited the South Pasadena office to create and copy flyers because I do not yet have a computer at my desk in Burbank . While at South Pasadena, you spoke to me, explaining that the purpose of my meetings with Mrs. Perez and Mrs. Campos was only to discuss my role in Business Development. I again asked why Mrs. Campos might be present if she was not my supervisor and you said that Business Development is “one” entity.

During the meeting, Mrs. Perez said that I am required to work after 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, as I am expected to attend special events. Liz Campos and Mrs. Perez also said that at the time I was hired, I agreed to work a flexible schedule of more than 8 hours per day, including Saturdays and Sundays, if deemed necessary by the credit union. Mrs. Perez also said that by refusing to work more than 8 hours a day, I had created an unfair situation for the other business development representatives.

I reminded Mrs. Perez and Mrs. Campos that on January 29th, I was told that my work day begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. At no time, did either woman state I might be required to work before or after my scheduled shift.

Mrs. Perez also asked that I provide the credit union with copies of my class schedule and a syllabus for each class. I told both that I am not required to provide the requested proofs unless Priority One is reimbursing me the costs of attending classes. When I asked if I was being prohibited from attending classes, neither replied. Defensively, Mrs. Perez accused me of being inflexible but I quickly pointed out that I worked last Saturday and that I am again scheduled to work on Saturday, 2/3/07 and Saturday, 2/10/07.

I find it incredulous that Priority One is trying to impede one of its employees from developing their education or from enhancing their abilities and knowledge. On Monday, 1/29/07, Mrs. Campos told me I was selected as the branch manager for the Burbank branch because I do not possess loan processing skills (which fails to explain why other, current branch managers have been appointed without having loan processing skills). Its rather illogical to prohibit me from enhancing my education and obtain new, needed skills that will improve my abilities and personal development, when the credit union has refused my previous requests to be trained in loan processing.

Mrs. Campos also accused me of making disparaging remarks about you and another employee, whose name she would not disclose. She quickly changed the subjected when asked to bring my accusers into the meeting. Evidently, Mrs. Campos used the meeting as a platform to accuse me of things which amount to nothing more than unfounded gossip. which by the way, have absolutely nothing to do with the alleged reason I was asked to attend both meetings. Do you condone the behaviors of your two AVP's?

During the 2/02 meeting, Juan entered the room and handed Liz a copy of my job description which you had just faxed to the branch. Mrs. Campos handed the description to me to read. I noted immediately that written on the top right corner was the word, “Draft” indicating this was not a finalized document for use by the credit union. At this time, I would like to address specific portions of the job descriptions which allude to what I am expected to do in the development of new business.

The description states, that a BDR "Compiles and analyzes market research data to develop portfolio of products and services focused on needs of target market."

Compiling and analyzing market research is not a duty assigned to any business development representative at Priority One. As you know, this is the responsibility of the management sector. At best, business development representatives have been allowed to make suggestions based on their first hand exposure in the marketplace though none of the teams have ever been trained or provided with the actual tools needed to compile or analyze market research.

The description also states that a business development representatives "Develops, revises, or eliminates products and services experiencing less than satisfactory performance."

This has never been the a responsibility of any business development representatives. As you know, the task of developing or eliminating products and services is something carried out by the credit union president, the vice president of operations, sometimes the loan director, all of who confer with the director of marketing. Also, the business development team have never been empowered to make decisions in these areas. As you also know, findings from surveys are never divulged to the business development staff.

The description also states that a business development representative "Designs selling program to promote establishment consumer and business loan products." Again, business development representatives have never designed programs though we each may develop our own, individual method needed to sell our products and services. Designing a "selling program" is something determined by upper management including the loan director, the director of marketing, possibly with assistance of the branch manager at South Pasadena and the VP of operations. Also, Priority One has never and does not currently offer business loan products.

Also stated is that a business development representative "Recommends changes and additions to loan development programs to ensure customer satisfaction and profitability of establishment."

Changes to the loan development programs originate with the director of the loan department and the President based on their observations of our members needs. And as you will recall, Priority One has to date, not offered taught its employees how to assist in the development of loan programs.

Continuing, the description states that a business development representative "Calls and visits target customers to promote and sell establishment products and services." During the business development meeting conducted by Liz Campos and Syliva Perez at the Burbank branch, were were told that we are expected to "pound the pavement" in our search for new business. This means actually visiting prospective members and employer groups and not calling. This was made very clear by your two AVP's, who said representatives will not be allowed to stay in their assigned branches but for a very brief amount of time.

With regards to LANGUAGE SKILLS described in the description, it states-

"Ability to read, analyze, and interpret general business periodicals, professional journals, technical procedures, or governmental regulations."

The insidious campaign launched against Ms. Freed by the President with assistance of AVP's, Liz Campos and Sylvia Perez, and also by Burbank Branch Manager, Linda Nisely, was enabled by the intentional decision by Human Resources, actually Rodger Smock, to ignore the attack and by his refusal to intercede and bring an end to a series of illegal acts.

On February 2, 2015, he faxed a copy of the job description for Business Development Representative, knowing the document was going to be used to disparage and berate Ms. Freed. If Ms. Freed had indeed maligned the credit union and violated policy than the incident should have been conducted with Mr. Smock present.

Furthermore, the job description faxed by Rodger Smock was an unauthorized draft that had not been approved by the Board of Directors. Subsequently, it possessed absolutely no value. Additionally and contradictory to the reference contained in the job description, Priority One's BDR's have never been shown how to read, analyze, and interpret general business periodicals, professional journals, technical procedures or governmental regulations. We're not sure why Mr. Smock who is quite incapable of reading, analysing and interpreting general business periodicals, professional journals, technical procedures or governmental regulations would expect BDR's to possess the ability to fulfill this requirement.

It is also reasonable to assume that prior to introducing new products and services, the credit union conducts studies and evaluation processes to ensure these meet "governmental regulations." That is not a responsibility of any BDR. The job description also states that BDR's work within the guidelines and polices provided to them by the credit union. What specific is the description referring to? Which periodicals and professional journals are BDR' allegedly required to analyze? And what types of technical procedures are they required to comprehend? In fact, when has the credit union ever provided training to any employee to understand business periodicals, professional journals, technical procedures or governmental regulations? And who provided the training? We know it wasn't the credit union's information deprived, Training and Education Manager, Robert West. 

Not surprisingly, Rodger Smock never responded to Ms. Freed's correspondence. This of course is what the self-described :"peacemaker" always does when faced with complaints containing allegations that members of the management sector have ever violated policies and state and federal laws. Even allegations of sexual harassment have been ignored by the aged Senior Vice President and Director over Human Resources. Mr. Smock like Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, has enabled the egregious acts perpetrated against staff members by President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. Then again, every monster has its maker.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't Campos the woman who was caught kiting?

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