We continue with the story of former business development representative, C. Freed, who was subjected to continuous harassment by her supervisor and AVP, Sylvia Perez, and AVP, Liz Campos, while assigned to work at Priority One Credit Union's Burbank branch. During many meetings she was forced to attend, the two AVP's informed her that what C. Freed viewed as harassment had actually been ordered by President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.
Priority One's continuing financial losses and struggling efforts to obtain new business are the result of President Wiggington's ignorance about marketing, his confused priorities, overspending, and his undisciplined and embarrassing behaviors.
it should be apparent to anyone reading this blog that President Wiggington spends an inordinate large amount of time on things that have absolutely nothing to do with developing new business or developing stronger ties with the communities the credit union supposedly services. In 2008, it was discovered he sexually harassed a former employee. Since then, he has spent a lot of his workday slandering employees, playing on the Internet while in his office, walking around the South Pasadena branch speaking loudly on his cellular to family members, and working less than 6 hours per day. At the end of 2007 and again, at the end of 2008, Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks approved he be granted an increase in salary and bonuses.
C. Freed's Plight
After submitting her initial complaint to Human Resources on 2/06/07, Ms. Freed began documenting incidents she believed were intentionally executed to discredit her reputation.
Following a February 2, 2007, meeting with AVP's, Sylvia Perez and Liz Campos, during which the two women accused her of having a "bad attitude" and of disparaging her employer, Ms. Freed's performance continued to be heavily scrutinized by the two officers. It is rather conspicuous that the two officers who are of Mexican descent, singled out Ms. Freed who is Jewish, and continually scrutinized her work. Whenever Ms. Freed would submit her mileage reimbursement requests, she would be interrogated at great length by Mrs. Perez who would demand to know exactly what businesses she visited, how long it took her to arrive at her destinations and where might she stopped off on her way to visit members and potential members. Mrs. Perez's inquisition was absurd, demanding a minute-by-minute breakdown of all of Ms. Freed's activities. What's more, Mrs. Perez actually added up the times to ensure they tallied to eight hours. It was excessive and cause Ms. Freed duress and superficially, it was discriminatory as no other business development representative was subject to such stringent scrutiny.
On April 5, 2015, Ms. Freed was again contacted while in the field by Mrs. Perez and asked to come to the Burbank branch on April 6, 2015, to discuss "a situation". The following record was documented by Ms. Freed describing the conversation with Mrs. Perez:
"I arrived at Burbank as requested on April 5, 2007, by Sylvia Perez. After arriving, Sylvia called me on my cellular and said she wanted to speak to me between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and wanted to discuss an incident which occurred when I visited the South Pasadena, on Wednesday, April 4th.
I sat at my desk and waited for the meeting to start but Sylvia did not arrive at the Branch until 10:30 a.m. and when she did, she walked past my desk without saying a word. Entering her office, she immediately sat down and made a telephone call. At about 10:45 a.m., she called my name and asked that I enter her office. Once inside, I closed the door behind me so employees would not hear what was about to be discussed. Sylvia began by stating, 'I asked you to do something. Tell me what happened because Charles is furious with you'.”
Sylvia was referring to my visit to South Pasadena on April 4, 2007. At the time, she asked that to visit the main branch and speak with Lead Consumer Loan Teller, Georgina Duenas regarding several errors I had found in the credit union's most recently published newsletter.
On April 4, 2007, I arrived at the South Pasadena office and walked over to Georgina's desk but she was out to lunch and no one in the Loan Department seemed to know when she might return. Since I had no idea how long I might have to work, I decided to create fliers that I needed for an upcoming event. I went to my old desk in the business development unit and began working. I periodically returned to the Loan Department to see if Georgina had returned. When Georgina finally arrived I sat in a chair in front of her desk and told her about the errors I identified and offered some suggestions for the next scheduled newsletter.
I returned to the business development unit and resumed working on the fliers but remembers that I'd forgotten to tell Georgina that the language in the current Vacation promotion which appears in the current newsletter differs from the language contained in the materials the credit union provided to employees of McKay Travel. The newsletter states that if a person finances a loan in the amount of $15,000 or more, they will receive a 6-day vacation package to Hawaii, however, the language is inconsistent with what we previously provided to McKay Travel.
I returned to Georgina's desk but was informed she had just left and no one seemed to know her whereabouts or when she might return. In fact, one loan processor informed me she had gone on break which seemed peculiar since she had just returned to work following her lunch break.
I decided to walk over to Patti Loiacano's cubicle. Because Mrs. Loiacano is the Assistant to the Director of Lending, I decided to inform her about the discrepancy in language contained in the newsletter and that contained in the materials sent to McKay Travel. She reviewed the information and said that all information about the promotion which was subsequently published in the newsletter, had been provided by McKay Travel's CEO. However, she could not explain why a discrepancy existed and asked that I instead, speak to Georgina.
I returned to the business development unit and resumed printing fliers. While doing so, Charles Wiggington walked over to where I sat and said, "I’m glad you still here” and asked that I follow him to Member Services.
Once in Member Services, he turned and asked in an angry tone, “What’s happening with the newsletter?” I explained that there were inconsistencies between what was printed in the newsletter and what was printed in the materials provided by McKay Travel. I also showed him other errors in the newsletter including a reference that the credit union has an ATM at the Burbank branch which is incorrect. I also showed him that the hours of operation for the Valencia branch are incorrect. I also told him that the newsletter states that Priority One offers IRA Certificates which the credit union is not licensed to offer. He replied, "We don’t want to make it be known to our members. I rather get loans but since Inland Postal Credit Union offers them [IRA Certificates] we thought we would continue [carrying these] and offer them to the rest of the membership.”
The President is wrong. Though it is true, IRA Certificates are only offered by the Redlands and Riverside branches, the reason why they are only offered at those two locations is that IRA Certificates were one of the products contained in their portfolio of products prior to their merger with Priority One Credit Union at the end of 2006. And though the President is correct that IRA Certificates are continuing to be offered, they are only offered in Riverside County which also explains why they have never been promoted in Los Angeles county. What the President could have told Ms. Freed's is that IRA Certificates are offered but never advertised. That actually would have been accurate. When it comes to IRA Certificates, hush is evidently the word.
Continuing, Ms. Freed wrote:
"President Wiggington next stated he is “sick and tired” of Andemahr, the credit union's long time marketing company and accused them of continually committing errors and adding that this isn't the first time they've been negligent when creating promotions for the credit union. He loudly proclaimed, "This is the last error they commit!" During his rant a member sat quietly at a nearby desk listening to our conversation. I could not understand why the President chose the middle of the Member Services Department to level accusations against Andemahr. Charles ended by stating, "I am going to call Andermahr today and fire them!"
When I finished telling Sylvia what had transpired, she responded by stating she disagreed with everything I did during my visit to South Pasadena. She then opened a manila folder that had lain atop her desk and pulled out a copy of a 2006 performance evaluation issued to me by my former supervisor, Maggie Rios. I suddenly realized that my performance was the actual reason why I had been called into a meeting by Mrs. Perez.
Sylvia stated, "I want you to read something" and read a reference that stated I was not a team player. I was taken aback by her use of an old evaluation issued to me by my former supervisor. Her tactic was a direct contradiction of a directive issued by the President just two weeks earlier in which he said he did not want employees bringing up the past because everything began anew when he started his appointment of President on January 1, 2007.
Weary of the continual criticism leveled against me by Mrs. Perez, Mrs. Campos and now, President Wiggington, I told Mrs. Perez I was tired of being berated and of being badgered by Liz Campos and Linda Nisely, neither of who are my assigned supervisors but who continually criticize me.
Mrs. Perez replied, stating "Carol, I think you're too sensitive. You're a great worker and taking offense for what others tell you to do is absurd. After all, this is Linda's branch and she can make whatever comments she wants to and she can address issues which affect her branch. So just accept it and let it go."
Everything Sylvia was consigned to short sentences and punctuated by criticisms. She also contradicted several directives provided to the entire business development team during a meeting conducted on January 4, 2007. At the time, the President explained that every business development representative would have one supervisor and only one supervisor they'd answer to and receive instruction from. The President also said that at no time were business development representatives to perform branch-related work and that our only focus was the obtainment of new business. He even explained that this would ensure business development representatives were not be used to perform work that fell outside of their assigned responsibilities and that tellers and FSR's are at each branch to only perform branch-related work.
I told her in view of the fact I was receiving orders from her, from Mrs. Campos and from Mrs. Nisely, I wanted her to from hereon, provide all instructions in writing, explaining this would serve to avoid future confusion. Sylvia replied, "I can't promise anything."
After the meeting ended, I returned to my desk and though about the evaluation Mrs. Perez had used to assert I am not a team player and it occurred to me that while Maggie Rios was my supervisor, at no time did she ever accuse me of being uncooperative or of not being a team player. In fact, at no time do I remember ever being issued a performance evaluation by Maggie that included any such references. It then occurred to me that Mrs. Perez and President Wiggington might have altered the original evaluation which constitutes fraud.
In a log dated Friday, April 13, 2007, Ms. Freed wrote:
"This morning after arriving at the Burbank branch and while signing on to my computer, I noticed a manila envelope lying at one side of my desk. On the envelope was written the word, "Congratulations." Opening the envelope, I poured its contents on to my desk and discovered there were travel vouchers containing Mrs. Perez's writing. Further below the word Congratulations was a note that read, "I need to talk to your about some loan applications submitted via fax to Burbank office by a dealership."
Because Sylvia hadn't yet arrived to work, I asked one of my co-workers if they knew when she might be arriving. No one knew. Returning to my desk, I called Mrs. Perez at her cellular and asked when she might arrive at the branch. She replied that she was on her way to one of her weekly mentoring classes and probably would not arrive at Burbank until after 10:45 a.m. Though I had planned on leaving work early because I wasn't feeling well, I decided o wait for Mrs. Perez to arrive.
At 10:30 a.m., Mrs. Perez called and said she would not be arriving until after 10:45 a.m. because she was on her way to meet the Branch Manager of the Van Nuys office at health fair he was attending. She informed me that she might not get to Burbank until after 1 p.m. I told her that I was not feeling well and she suggested I leave for the day but before doing so, that I leave my timesheet, expense report and weekly production report on her desk.
I next asked why she needed to speak to me about the loan applications faxed to the branch by a dealer. She said Linda Nisley told her that for each loan application I submitted, I included a request for a vacation voucher. I told her that this was correct, reminding her that the current Vacation Giveaway promotion allows employees to earn points each time they obtain a new membership or loan application, irrelevant of whether the membership is opened or the loan financed. We had been instructed to submit vouchers whenever we obtained new business. The vouchers would provide a record of the type of new business obtained by employees. I asked Sylvia if she would prefer that I pick-up the loan applications directly from dealerships rather than having these faxed to Burbank. She replied, "Don't do anything or speak to anyone until I have had an opportunity to first speak to Charles."
In a log dated May 1, 2007, Ms. Freed wrote:
This morning upon arriving at the Burbank office, Sylvia immediately asked that I come to her office. As I entered the office I again closed her office door and sat down directly in front of her desk. Sylvia stated she was unsure how to approach the subject she had been asked to speak to me about but began by stating that Charles Wiggington told her he had received numerous complaints from employees at the South Pasadena branch alleging I have a terrible attitude and that I frequently speak negatively about the credit union.
I was taken aback because the President has a "closed door" policy to all employees and has often issued directives prohibiting employees from speaking to him yet for some reason he has suddenly become the recipient of lots of complaints from what I assume are lots of employees. How is that even possible?
I responded by informing Mrs. Perez that I wanted to know exactly what had been said about me and by whom. I told her the statements made by the President mean nothing if they are not specific.
Said the President had not provided anything more specific. I then told her that I couldn't understand why she chose to speak to me about alleged unspecified complaints without first having obtained specific information about what I allegedly said and to whom.
Taken aback, Mrs. Perez said she did not believe the President would volunteer specifics. I told her that I had a right to face my accusers and repeated that I wanted to know what I specifically said and who I said it to. She repeated that the President would probably not volunteer specifics.
In what seemed an attempt to justify the President, Mrs. Perez stated that she too had observed my interactions with co-workers and was forced to agree with the President that there are problems with my attitude. I asked that she provide instances when I demonstrated a poor attitude towards staff and the credit union but she merely replied that she could not remember any specifics at that moment.
I told Mrs. Perez that I was tired of being singled out and even abused by the President, by Mrs. Campos, by Mrs. Nisely and by her. I also reminded her that just one week ago, Mrs. Nisely told me I was not allowed to use the fax machine located on the counter behind the teller stations in the Burbank branch and I was ordered to desist from using my cellular for business calls while inside the branch. I was also the only employee ordered by Mrs. Nisely to not park in the public parking lot located in front of the branch. I asked Sylvia if she thought I was being treated fairly and like all other employees of the branch? She didn't reply. I added that despite what appears to be a smear campaign started by the President, I continue to meet my assigned goals and consistently bring in new business on a daily basis. I ended by again asking that she contact the President and request a record of what I've allegedly done that is disrupting the work environment and what I've allegedly said that is maligning my employer. She again didn't respond.
In a log dated Friday, May 4th, Ms. Freed wrote:
While reviewing the record of new business I obtained for the week of April 23, 2007, Sylvia paused and told me that President Wiggington "refused" to issue a record of the acts I've committed that violate policy or the names of the individuals who lodged complaints against me.
To be continued......