I was a Secretary II for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) from May 1, 2007 to October 1, 2008. I worked in the Planning Dept. During my employment I know for a fact that I was being mistreated and plotted against by the staff, including Upper Management. I know this because once I reported in September 2007 that another co-worker who was training me had stolen my hearing aid and I saw this co-worker put my hearing aid with my own eyes in the dumpster, management along with her turned this situation around, retaliated against me and not only did they accused me of being a trouble maker but I was also labeled the troublemaker of the department.
Up until this point, I had gotten along fine with everyone, but after I reported this incident the working environment was no longer respectful. I immediately began to experience a hostile and harassing work environment. My hearing aid that cost $7,768.00 was taken from me in Sept. 07, but we did not have a meeting until Feb. 4, 2008, but in Oct. 2007 when another employee fabricated a story saying that I was being argumentative toward him over a scanning project in which I wasn't being argumentative toward him (there was not reason to - I like scanning) they had the meeting the very next day. And whenever this same employee who had taken my hearing fabricated false incidents meetings were held the same or next day.
When I had requested certain accommodations due to my disabilities, I reluctantly received the accommodations and it was not without an argument from the same co-worker who had put my hearing aid in the dumpster in which management always taken her side. There were unsigned letters placed in my employee mailbox indicating "you don't have long", "watching you" and "why". I also was threaten to be written up for parking in a handicap parking space when I have a handicap parking decal to park in the handicap parking space. Internal Management always came up with reasons to substantiate their in/non-action of not providing me a workplace free of harassment and hostility as they were to do. Then I began being accused of missing phone calls, when I hadn't missed any calls, and the co-worker who had put my hearing aid in the dumpster had failed to transfer agency calls to me that should have been transferred to me, to make it appears as if I was messing up on the job when I wasn't. I was made fun of and corrected about my speech, in pronouncing certain words, when management knew that I talked the way I talked when they hired me. I was called a b***h and yelled at work in front of other employees just to name a few things, to help you get the picture of what I was going through. I sought every venue, going through the change of command to get this situation resolved in a positive way including going to the EEOC and I received no relief. The Internal EEO stated it was my fault that I didn't trust management because Management Office Head stated that I was wrong because I didn't tell them I was handicap before they hired me. Each and every complaint I made. Management finding was "No substantial evidence to substantiate my claim" and there was no action taken in my defense, even though I had emails and a tape to back up what it was I was saying.
I was given extra work assignments even that of my supervisor, in which I did very well. I also was given the responsibility of unloading at least 20 boxes of paper which included 10 package of paper weighting 20lbs although I had provided my employer with a work restriction document from my doctor, which indicated that I was not to lift over 10 lbs. Because it caused pain and stress to my foot just because the co-worker who had put my hearing aid in the dumpster didn't want to give another employee a pack of paper. I did the work anyway because I needed the money I was receiving to pay my monthly home bills and I also was in the process of clearing up my credit. In which I had made lot of progress, so I didn't want to jeopardize my pay, because I had also just purchased a new car in Aug. 2008.
I received a letter back in June 2008 from GDOT Staff Attorney/Upper Management telling me to refrain from talking or sending any emails that I had previously sent to upper management to get this situation resolved or I could receive disciplinary action including dismissal if I continue to talk or email anyone. Even though I had provided management with a tape of the co-worker response back to me after I had busted her putting my hearing in the dumpster, she stated "It doesn't matter how it gotten in there, but what matter is that you go it back!" Management still provided me with a letter stating that I've exhausted all of my administrative remedies and nothing else was going to be done. I stopped talking and sending email as I was told. During my employment, I complained to my medical doctor and medical attention was provided to give me some relief. On August 19, 2008 I was given an unfair "Did Not Meet" PMF (performance evaluation) based upon me exercising my rights of filing an EEO and the things that management had told me not to talk about. This evaluation was not based upon my work performance. I had never received any disciplinary actions or progressive steps of disciplines on any work assignment that I had done. I reported to work everyday and I had no problem from many of the people who I provided support for. The same day that I receive this evaluation, I stayed at work until after 7 pm and filed a 10 page appeal. Management was supposed to provide me an answer within 15 days, but I didn't get an response from my appeal until Oct 1, 2008 and all it stated was the "Did Not Meet" rating was going to be upheld without any explanation and that this decision was final. Management didn't even take into consideration anything that I stated in my appeal. I immediately sent an email to upper management and to everyone asking to please give me a reason. I notice my supervisor watching my reactions of this response through the window of his office across from my desk. I then decided that I was going to quit my job, because I was tired of the mistreatments that I was experiencing at my job. This supervisor watched me packed and he glanced at me and went to tell the head supervisor. I then took out to my car a hand full of bags of my personal belongings that I had packed up leaving behind another bag and a box of the rest of my things that I was going to get after I had told the head administrator that I had quit.
When I came back in to tell the head administrator that I was quitting my job. I went to her office and the door was shut and she and the supervisor who I stated had been watching me was still in her office. I was visibly upset by another administrator who sat approx 5 feet from the head administrator desk and he asks me what was wrong? I begin crying telling him what was wrong. I admit I could have been loud because I wear a hearing aid and sometimes when I speak normal to me, but it sound louder to others, but I wasn't yelling as I was telling him that I was quitting my job and that I had had enough. As I was doing this another administrator, aggressively rushed toward me from approx 25 feet pointing her finger in my face and giving me a direct order "CALM DOWN!" "I SAID CALM DOWN!" creating a commotion, that brought out other employee from their respective work area. Up until this point I hadn't used any profanity and I immediately stepped back and held myself up on another employee desk because I began experiencing severe pain in my foot due to the stress that I was then under. I then responded back to this employee who had so aggressively approached me that "YOU BETTER BACK THE F*** UP OFF OF ME!" off of me!" I didn't know what this employee was going to do next. Immediately the head administrator and the supervisor who was watching me through his office window exited the office. I begin saying over and over again, as I was crying "I am quitting!, I've had enough, I am tired, this isn't fair and I stated to the head administrator that she could have put a stop to this but she didn't because she was part of it, and I called her a jealous as b***h and I turned and walked to my desk to get the rest of my things and leave. But before I got to my desk I fell down, because my foot had given out on me due to the pain in it caused by the stress that I was experiencing. I was still crying and upset and saying over and over that I am quitting my job.
I left and went home. Then began calling attorneys. It was late but one attorney did tell me to get to the unemployment right away and that what I made have experienced in the workplace is called "Constructive Discharge".
The next day I did go and file for unemployment, indicating that I had quit due to mistreatment of my employer. Later on that night. I received a call from a former co-worker. I was told that, management and other employee was laughing at the misfortunate incident that had happened to me and that Management had stated that they escorted me out by security because I was knocking thing off of the desk and acting irate. I knew this was true and I sent an email the next day to everyone in the Office of Planning including the Commissioner setting the record straight. Management knew I quit but reported false information to the unemployment appeal tribunal that I had been fired because I violated company's policy by not acting in a professional way.
I filed an appeal and requested an in person hearing. At this same time weeks before the hearing I also requested several subpoenas including a subpoena of a video surveillance that Cousin Property Management security monitors all area of the building in which GDOT is in. I requested this video to validate that I wasn't escorted out by security as management had stated. Approx. 3 days before the hearing I was told by the one of the worker of the Appeal Tribunal, that the subpoenas were not ready. This worker then faxed the subpoenas to me within the 72 hrs of the hearing in which I was supposedly already given the subpoenas to. I requested that the hearing be delayed until everyone receives their subpoenas. The hearing was not delayed. The hearing continued on Nov 18, 2008. None of the witnesses I subpoenas was present. Management did not provide the video/surveillance tape that I subpoena to the hearing that was scheduled for Nov. 18, 2008. Management or the Hearing Officer had not responded to my request to record the hearing. I mentioned this during the hearing on Nov. 18, 2008 but at that time did not get a response from the Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer stated that the hearing would be held for an hour but the questioning of the administrative head wasn't over after the hour and the hearing was rescheduling until Dec. 3, 2008.
I thought this was good, because I would have time to get the subpoenas for the tape and my witnesses, but nothing worked out for me and on Dec. 3, 2008, again none of my witnesses was present or called by phone as was stated to me that they would be. Nor did management provided the video/surveillance tape verifying that I was acting irriate as they had stated. All of management witnesses testify first. Then I was told to testify. After I testify a couple of management witness was called and requestioned. I was told by the Hearing Officer when I ask about the tape/surveillance tape that I was supposed to make my request to the Chief Hearing Officer. I then asked him then why didn't anyone say so when I sent my email with my request? I couldn't understand why he allowed a letter from the employer that they don't have the tape to be sufficient, when I was told by a member of the Appeal Tribunal that since management has a contract with the security company that they has the responsibility of producing the tape.
I knew I had been treated fairly during this hearing and I questioned the Hearing Officer about my witnesses and he said he was done for the day. No more testimony was going to be accepted. I also asked earlier ask him if I could introduce into evidence tape recorded conversation of myself and my witnesses, who verified that I had quit my job and that they had not seen me throw anything at anybody or anything and he said that he could not allow the tape because the person wasn't present to verify their voice. I then stated to the Hearing Officer that he could get the person to verify their voice when he calls them to testify by phone and he said he would not allow my tape into evidence, although I could verify the authentication of the tape.
On Sat. Dec. 6, 2008 I received the Hearing Officer decision. He stated in his report that I the claimant had failed to present sufficient testimony and evidence to prove that I was mistreated at work, even though I had provided him with various documents verifying the complaints that I had filed internally and externally. I also provided him with many emails that my employer had responded back to me, verifying the false statement and the false testimony that the employer had provided to him during this hearing and he did not take not one word of my testimony or the documentations that I had provided to him during this hearing. Management own testimony to the Hearing Officer proved that I was telling the truth about what had happened to me at work during this hearing, but the Hearing Officer stated in this same report to me that I failed to demonstrate that I quit my employment for a good work connected reason and he therefore states, "disqualification is required". He also stated in his decision "The determination released by the Department on October 16, 2008, disqualifying the claimant effective September 28, 2008, under OCGA Section 34-8-194(2)A is amended and that I the claimant shall be disqualified under the provisions of OCGA Section 34-8-194(1). How could this be, when I quit my job on Oct 1, 2008? Also the Hearing Officer could not and did not proved that I had intentionally done anything wrong as he was supposed to have done so in order for the employer to be right. Each and every one of the employer's witnesses testified that I was visibly upset after receiving my performance evaluation, so how it that I had done anything intentionally wrong?
This is how the employers of the Georgia Department of Transportation prevailed against me. They lied, cheated, and stolen from me. Then they systematically covered it up with the help of other government entities. The employers should have to obey the laws just like all employee do, but they act untouchable and don't mind being corrupted. The Employer's main objective is to rid the whistleblower and they do a good job of it, because the employee side, which is my side, had never gotten to the proper people to do anything about it. Even, when I had appealed my complaint properly as I've had done, nothing right was done about it.
I have a right to whistle blow and tell the truth about my employer and the board of review I believe is not going to help me but they will, that is be helping the employer to be unjustly unfair to people. I didn't receive a fair hearing and I did at my hearing complained about this to the hearing officer, Lamar Barnes.
Just like my employer, GDOT, the Hearing Officer Lamar Barnes did not take anything that I stated or provided during this hearing into consideration. His whole decision was a one sided approval with the employer and he also lied about me and stated that I caused the commotion and that I did not seeks steps to dispute the review of a poor performance evaluation that the employer had unfairly given to me, although it was management who said the decision was final and that I couldn't do nothing else. The Hearing Officer added twisted my testimony and my evidences. Mr. Barnes did not call one of the witnesses that I had requested by subpoenas, to be at the hearing in person or by telephone. I also requested to receive permission to record the hearing but my request was denied and at the hearing the Hearing Officer stated that I made my request to the wrong person. This is why I am making this complaint. Should any government agency or government entities are allow getting away with wrongfully being unfair toward employees such as me?
I need help to change this wrong from right. I believe I have the documentation to prove what it is I am saying. What shall I do? Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
Villa Rica, Georgia