Lawsuit Against AOC Alleges Gender Discrimination and Retaliation

cartoon2008-01-02_167573tIn court documents filed in District Court, a labor negotiator for the AOC paints a picture of an agency staffed with supervisors willing to break rules to benefit “favorites” and also willing to break ethical and perhaps legal rules to cover up their misdeeds.

Paula Negley, the labor negotiator filing the lawsuit, states in her court filings that the trouble began when the AOC announced there was a vacancy and they were looking to hire a second labor negotiator. A male applicant by the name of David Wolf who wound up being offered the position of labor negotiator declined to take the position because of “insufficient pay.” And there must have been something about Mr. Wolf that the AOC really wanted because the AOC not only offered him more money, they offered him a more senior position as well.

The AOC then offered Wolf the position of “Senior Labor and Employee Relations Officer,” with a pay rate of approximately $1000-$2000 more per month than the “Labor Relations Officer” position, even though (a) the Administrative Director of the Courts had just instituted a hiring freeze, (b) there was no open, budgeted position for the “Senior Labor and Employee Relations Officer” position, and (c) there had been no posting of the position so that all those interested and qualified – such as Negley – could apply and compete. Wolf accepted the offer.

The AOC then informed Negley that although Wolf would be paid the higher rate of pay, nevertheless, Wold would be continuously working “out of position” as a Labor Relations Negotiator, performing the exact same job that she was doing.

Ms. Negley states then filed two internal complaints with the AOC. The first complaint she filed challenged the fact that Mr. Wolf would be paid more than she for doing the same exact work.

The AOC is alleged to have responded to Ms. Negley’s complaint by changing the job duties for the position that Mr. Wolf had been given basically creating a new job classification. Ms. Negley filed a second internal complaint stating that this newly created position had never been posted so that other qualified candidates could apply and that it was the AOC’s way of punishing her for filing her first complaint.

And how did the AOC react to Ms. Negley filing her second internal complaint?

Again, the AOC subjected Negley to an incessant campaign of petty harassment designed to provoke her into quitting. Although the individual instances of this harassment are too numerous to catalog here, they included making her justify, over and over again, how she spends her time while traveling, and making her travel and work at remote locations for up to 14 hours in a day without permitting her to lodge at the location overnight.

Hmmm…does any of this sound familiar? Supervisors allegedly making hiring exceptions for favorites? The AOC responds to complaints by allegedly retaliating against those who do complain? I only hope this lawsuit goes all the way to jury trial because maybe then we’ll be able to air out all of the dysfunctional goings on that seem to plague the AOC.

You can read the court filings yourself by downloading them here and here.

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3 responses to “Lawsuit Against AOC Alleges Gender Discrimination and Retaliation

  1. All of this nonsense about favoritism, making up new classifications, gender discrimination and petty harrassment of employees wouldn’t exist if the AOC employees were part of the civil service system or some other merit system. Virtually every other state agency in California has some organized system of rules based on merit for hiring, promoting, demoting and terminating. And by the way, merit systems were created exactly for preventing the employment abuses that appear to be rampant at the AOC.

    • Sorry to disappoint you but this can happen even with a civil service system or a merit system. Seen it and have had to deal with the fallout. Where there is a will they will find a way.

  2. What is Stinking In Denmark?

    If one only knew the extent to which Negley’s case is the routine rather than the exception. For instance, Google Kanter vs. Administrative Office of the Courts for another example of what this agency is capable of doing. Those at the AOC, who have responsibility for monitoring these type actions and ensuring employees are protected and extended their right to voice their concerns, have simply turned a blind eye to the actions taken by the cesspool of current HR Division leaders.

    Something definitely stinks in Denmark and it is not the cheese. All one would need to do is follow the stink that leads to the Executive Office at the AOC. There sits Vickrey and Overholt.

    Ironically, over the past 10 years, Vickrey and Overholt have selected, placed in HR, and supervised HR Division leaders who range from screaming demon types (such as the sofa man, the reigning HR director, and lady Who) to those who hire their friend’s children (more about this later) and their own family members, and only God knows who else, whether or not they are qualified.

    One need only take a look at the astronomical turnover rate in HR among line staff and the number of so-called leaders who have cycled through the HR Division over the past ten years to know that Vickrey and Overholt simply are missing the boat when it comes to providing AOC employees and the courts with a HR Division team on which they can rely.