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Here is an attachment of my journal entry it this helps...I am thinking of taking legal action against HR. I believe they have violated several aspects of the whistle blower law..including releasing my name without written permission from me. As for the boss - she treats everyone that way. I just heard that she is making everyone sign an amendment to their policy and procedure that they will "not gossip", or "knit during meetings". While gossiping may be tacky, wouldn't that be in violation of freedom of speech? These are health department employees, so they abide by HIPPA laws, she is referring not talking/gossiping about her, the supervisor. As for knit during meetings - weird - who cares!
Carolyn McAndie’s Recollections
Middle of May, 2012.
After myself, and my co-workers having observed for several years what appeared to be inconsistency, and misuse of county time on our supervisor’s part, I decided it was time to document and confirm/disprove my suspicions. I installed a “nanny cam”. The settings I used were non-audio, photo/video motion detection recordings onto a memory card. I aimed the lens of the hidden camera at the employee sign in/out board. This is at the employee only entrance where the clients are not allowed to enter. The only people with access through this door have a key. Because I was concerned with memory card space, and the time I would need to screen though all the footage, I limited the recording time to several hours in the morning and then several hours in the afternoon (around closing time). I also obtained copies of my supervisor’s time sheets with the times in/out recorded. These are on the same public folder we all use in the computer. I kept a spread sheet of actual time recorded by camera & visual verification from myself and staff verses the times she entered. After keeping track of this for approximately 2 ½ months, and noticing a remarkable difference each month; I decided that our suspicions had probable cause and needed to be given to the proper authorities.
August 15th, Wednesday
I spoke to a trusted friend/coworker who works for the county asking who I should speak to about being a “whistle blower”. One of the people she suggested I speak to was Mark Nichols, the prosecuting attorney for the county. I called Mark, briefly explained I had a situation that warranted me becoming a whistle blower, and that I wanted to do it as discreetly and in such a way as to protect myself as much as possible. He stated I needed to call Marge, the director of Human Services and go through that route. I called Marge, and made an appointment to meet with her that afternoon. Since my supervisor was out of the office this day, I knew it would be an opportune time to get away from my desk without asking permission to leave & causing suspicion as to why I needed to speak to HR.
When I arrived to my appointment at HR, Marge asked if Rich Sill, incoming HR director could also sit in on this meeting. I agreed. I have known Rich Sill from at my past church and through encounters in my son’s special education class 7 years ago when he was in middle school. We had a friendly rapport. I was very nervous and shaking as I told them I have a concern I needed to bring up. I wanted to be a Whistle Blower, but before I gave details I wanted to know if I would be protected, because in the past, when staff had brought complaints of this person’s behavior up to her supervisor and/or HR it had gotten back to that person, and they were so intimidated and bulled by this person that they felt forced to quit. I mentioned that this had happened to half of the staff since I had worked there during the 6 years of my employment. Marge & Rich’s reply was that they needed more details before they could tell me what the consequences would be. I reminded them that I had never been to HR for a complaint before, and that this was very difficult for me. I am not a complainer, and am usually known to the staff and public as the jolly happy one that rallies the troops into a good mood and tries to leave everyone with a smile feeling as if they are worthy, and a job well done. I stated that I am totally scared to be here, and was fearful about any possible repercussions, but that I needed to do the right thing, and this needed to be done. I am embarrassed to say, I got a little teary during this.
I explained to them what I mentioned in the previous journal entry dated “Middle of May”. I also gave more details: I watched the video entries and recorded on the spreadsheet the actual time of entry each morning and the actual time of departure at the end of shift. I told them I also noted a pattern. For example: she arrives each morning around 5:55 am and then puts on her coat and leaves at 6:25am. She comes back into the office at 7:50am, just before staff arrives at 8:00am, with most days her leaving around 4 or 4:30. On her time sheets she enters time in: 6:00am, time left 4:30. Total time for day, 10 hours. By my calculations, total time for day was usually 1 to 1 ½ hours less per day than her entries. This happens Monday through Friday. I told them there are other examples of improper use of county time, but the daily in/outs were the only ones I was able to document. Marge stated that supervisors have different accountability of time than regular staff, that they could flex time, even if we couldn’t. I told her I understood that, and that it was the monthly total that was the real “tell”. Just in June, even though she was on vacation for the first two months, so I only was tracing the last two weeks, and during those last two weeks, she worked at least 10 hours short of what she recorded. And that was just two weeks, if it is looked at over a year, that is a lot of hours. She said, well maybe she is doing something for Iva during that morning time she leaves, the office. I told them other staff have seen her coming from a local church during that time, so I followed her. She goes to an AA meeting during her morning break. I told them I didn’t care that she goes to AA meetings, just not on county time. I told them I was very afraid to tell them any of this because of the past repercussions of bullying and harassment. I told them I am sorry they don’t have a policy of doing exit interviews, because with out any exception, all the staff who left told me it was because of Chris’ management style and behavior. Marge told me it wasn’t against the law to be a bad boss. ( I am paraphrasing this line, I don’t remember the exact words she used, but it was somewhere along that line.) I again said, I knew that, but it was against the law to falsify a time sheet and steal county time.
At about this time, Rich started in on his questioning. He wanted to know more about how I recorded this, who knows about this, what and where is the recording device, how long have I been doing this. He wanted to know who knew. I stated all the staff knew I was doing this, that I let them know how I was doing this, but that it was all my doing and not theirs. I told Rich & Marge the reason I revealed to my co-workers that I was using a hidden camera, was that when/if this came out, I didn’t want to lose their trust and have them think I was spying on them. By the way, their time was always accountable. I gave them the verbal details, and explained that I did not bring my documentation to this meeting. They wanted to know if Iva (Chris’ supervisor) knew. I asked them if they meant about Chris’ indiscretions on her time sheets, or about my documentation? I said I didn’t know if she knew about Chris’ time sheets being incorrect; that she was her supervisor, I would hope she noticed the times when she signed off on them. I told them she didn’t know I had been documenting. I told them I didn’t want Iva to know, because it has been observed, that when Iva knows something, she tells Chris, and then the bullying behavior and retaliation begins. I stated emphatically I did not want Iva to know, because then it would get back to Chris and my life would be hell at work. Over all, they interviewed me for 1 ½ hours. We arranged to meet the following Friday, August 24th to bring them my CD that had the spreadsheet and photos/videos on it.
August 17th, Friday
Rich Sill called me and wanted to see where the equipment was that I was using for photographing/videoing. I stated that since Chris was gone this day, it would be a good time for him to come over. He said he wanted to bring a camera and take pictures of the location. He was coming over after lunch. He showed up with notepad and camera in hand. I gave him a tour of the office (he had never been in our building before). When asked by a co-worker why he was here, he stated he had some insurance papers to go over. He then took photos of where the camera’s location was, the view of where its focal point was aimed, the employee entrance door, the sign that directs clients to leave by the front entrance, etc.
He wanted to talk to me in private so we went into an interview room (at the Health Department) and talked to me for over an hour. He stated that he was extremely worried at what I had done. He said that I had potentially ruined the health department’s reputation and the county’s department. If the fact that I had recorded someone got out, it would ruin the public’s trust in the county. The public would be too afraid to come to the health department for services. This would greatly harm the public. The public could come to never trust the HD again, etc. I asked if I was in trouble. He said I and not broken any WASHINGTON STATE LAWS. Uhm..I heard the undertone there that said I was probably in trouble with my employer, though. He informed me several times that he was a past detective and had done that for 30+ years. He said the public watches too much TV and should leave the detective work to the professionals. (I got that undertone too. ..”public” was referring to me). He grilled me about equipment that I used to document..had I used any county equipment, etc. He told me that it was risky to leave the recording equipment activated. I told him I could take it down and gave it to him now, rather than wait until our meeting next Friday. I informed him I opened the camera memory cards from my personal laptop and entered the statistics on my personal laptop into a spreadsheet. He was concerned that just opening the memory chips from my laptop meant that it could still be on my hard drive. I told him I did not save any recordings/videos to my hard drive, just to a CD, that I did not know how to find it if it was somehow encrypted onto my hard drive. He said that if my information on my laptop somehow got out into cyber space I would ruin the Health Department. I got the impression that if I turned my equipment over to him at that time, it would go better for me. I went out to my desk and got my personal laptop, staff asked me if I was ok because of my pallor..I said I couldn’t talk, I knew if I did I would fall apart. I then got the recording device, the CD and the memory card. I gave them all to Rich. He promised me that he wouldn’t let anyone touch my personal computer until next Wednesday, when I could be there to observe. He said he was going to be out of state on Monday & Tuesday, but would be back Wednesday. He had me tape my computer shut and sign my initials on the tape. He then had me find a bag, and put the items in that so no one could tell what he was removing from the building. He wanted me to assure him this was all the equipment/evidence I had. I assured him it was all. He said he would type up the main points of this meeting and email it to me.
I went into the break room and fell apart. Then I called my union rep, Dan and briefly explained what happened. He said I shouldn’t have done that and was mad they took my personal equipment. He was going to call the county’s lawyer and/or HR and tell them to give my equipment back. After I hung up with him, I was mad. I marched over to HR where I was met by Marge & Rich. I told them I changed my mind and wanted my laptop back. I told them they could keep the recording device, camera and memory chips, but that I wanted my personal laptop back. My personal records, banking, and home/farm business were on it. Rich said, it was in the evidence room and can’t you do without it until next Wednesday when I am back? I said no, I wanted it now. At that point, Marge said something about getting the sheriff. This scared me. I said I was willing to compromise. I said if they had a blank CD, I would like to download my Quickens bookkeeping so I would at least have that to take home. They agreed, found me a blank CD, and watched me as I opened my computer, downloaded Quickens onto the disk. I again taped up the computer, and he promised no one would open it until Wednesday when HR, myself, and a 3rd party could look at the contents of my hard drive together.
That day I went home to my family and relayed what had happened to me at work. As I told them the details out loud, it became evident to me that I had been bullied and intimidated by HR – the very people I went to voluntarily to be assisted with the situation. I decided that Monday I would turn in my resignation and demand my equipment back. I felt that HR was more interested in protecting the county’s reputation than taking care of a deceitful/wrong-doing situation. I really felt they would try to ruin me. Up to this point, I had an excellent work performance record. I didn’t want them to ruin it to cover up their true problem.
August 21st -22nd . The weekend. Full of anxiety, sleepless nights, tears…I kept replaying the scenarios over and over again in my head. I had trouble functioning/performing my daily activities.
August 20, Monday
I called in sick this day around 7:00am. My husband, John and my daughter, Megan came with me to the HR around 9:30am to demand my equipment back and turn in my resignation. The receptionist asked if I had an appointment..no I answered, but that I wanted to see Marge. After taking my name and having a seat, a flurry of activity then ensued. A sheriff employee stepped out to the front desk and pretended to “chat” with the receptionist while making a “presence” for me and my family, standing sidewise at the reception counter facing us, and keeping an eye on us. A few minutes later, employees from IT came in with a camera and some equipment. Upon entry, one IT employee smiled at me, said hello, and said “hey it’s the family “ in a friendly greeting. She left a few minutes later, glancing side-wise at me with a pained look on her face. I was then told I could go in & see Marge. She pointed to the table and said there is your computer, the shell anyway. She said she had the hard drive removed and there was a photo of it. I asked her incredulously “you can do that, legally?” She replied, “yes, it’s evidence in a crime”. I then handed her my resignation letter effective for that day. She said, “You don’t have to do this”. I replied, “You mean I can at least give a two week’s notice? You can protect me for at least two weeks? You won’t tell her (Chris)”. She replied, “Yes, she will find out, but not for at least two weeks, you are a Whistle Blower”. That was the first time I had heard from HR ever that they considered me a Whistle Blower . I then changed my resignation to reflect the two week’s notice and initialed it, then handed it to Marge.
Tuesday August 21st – Wed August 29th
I went to work, the last two days of August were taken as my floating holidays. During this time I received an email “memo” from Rich Sill. I assumed it was the summary of our last meeting that he had stated earlier that he was going to send me. I did not want to open it as work and read it since I was afraid Chris would walk by and see it. I forwarded it to my home email. I never did receive this email
These remaining days we extremely stressful. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Every time Chris went across the street to the main building, or got off the phone in her office, I kept expecting that she had found out. On my last physical day there, Wed Aug 29th, I signed over my cash drawer, and handed in my name tag and keys. Chris stated it wasn’t too late to change my mind and would I consider staying on as “extra help” when I was ready to come back. I said I would think about it.
On Friday August 30th, she took Emily F into a closed office and asked her what was going on. She told her she knew something was up. Emily told me she tried to be evasive as possible, but Chris was very insistent. Emily told her to go to HR. She apparently came back upset and in tears.
Tuesday September 4th email sent to Rich:
Would you please send that memo to me at my home email address (that you sent two weeks ago). I didn’t want to open it at work so I forwarded it home, but it never arrived. I think my spam filter may have deleted it.
I received an auto “out of office until July 5th” reply.
(1) An employee shall not directly or indirectly use or attempt to use the employee's official authority or influence for the purpose of intimidating, threatening, coercing, commanding, influencing, or attempting to intimidate, threaten, coerce, command, or influence any individual for the purpose of interfering with the right of the individual to: (a) Disclose to the auditor (or representative thereof) or other public official, as defined in RCW 42.40.020, information concerning improper governmental action; or (b) identify rules warranting review or provide information to the rules review committee. (2) Nothing in this section authorizes an individual to disclose information otherwise prohibited by law, except to the extent that information is necessary to substantiate the whistleblower complaint, in which case information may be disclosed to the auditor or public official, as defined in RCW 42.40.020, by the whistleblower for the limited purpose of providing information related to the complaint. Any information provided to the auditor or public official under the authority of this subsection may not be further disclosed.
(1)(a) In order to be investigated, an assertion of improper governmental action must be provided to the auditor or other public official within one year after the occurrence of the asserted improper governmental action. The public official, as defined in RCW 42.40.020, receiving an assertion of improper governmental action must report the assertion to the auditor within fifteen calendar days of receipt of the assertion. The auditor retains sole authority to investigate an assertion of improper governmental action including those made to a public official. A failure of the public official to report the assertion to the auditor within fifteen days does not impair the rights of the whistleblower. (b) Except as provided under RCW 42.40.910 for legislative and judicial branches of government, the auditor has the authority to determine whether to investigate any assertions received. In determining whether to conduct either a preliminary or further investigation, the auditor shall consider factors including, but not limited to: XXXXX XXXXX and quality of evidence and the existence of relevant laws and rules; whether the action was isolated or systematic; the history of previous assertions regarding the same subject or subjects or subject matter; whether other avenues are available for addressing the matter; whether the matter has already been investigated or is in litigation; the seriousness or significance of the asserted improper governmental action; and the cost and benefit of the investigation. The auditor has the sole discretion to determine the priority and weight given to these and other relevant factors and to decide whether a matter is to be investigated. The auditor shall document the factors considered and the analysis applied. (c) The auditor also has the authority to investigate assertions of improper governmental actions as part of an audit conducted under chapter 43.09 RCW. The auditor shall document the reasons for handling the matter as part of such an audit. (2) Subject to subsection (5)(c) of this section, the identity or identifying characteristics of a whistleblower is confidential at all times unless the whistleblower consents to disclosure by written waiver or by acknowledging his or her identity in a claim against the state for retaliation. In addition, the identity or identifying characteristics of any person who in good faith provides information in an investigation under this section is confidential at all times, unless the person consents to disclosure by written waiver or by acknowledging his or her identity as a witness who provides information in an investigation.
I worked for the Clallam County Health Department in Port Angeles in Washington State.
I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions.
You were very helpful when you gave me this advice a year ago. Now I have a new situation stemming from this whistleblowing action. I just received a summons. My former supervisor, whom I whistleblowed against, is suing me and my husband for "Complaint for Damages for the Common Law Tort of Invasion of Privacy by Intrusion" I know I will need to get a lawyer to represent me, to defend myself against her, but isn't my former employer at fault also for opening me up to this retaliation by my former supervisor for being a whistle blower? Now I am in a panic over this, since she is attacking me personally.
Sure! Hope everything goes well...and stock up on those popsicles! :)
I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions. Be sure to start future posts with "To Alexia Esq., ONLY" if you want me to specifically answer it.
Sincerely, XXXXX XXXXX
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Hi again Alexia, Thanks for your speedy reply. You have really helped put my mind to ease while I wait to hear back from the latest attorney if they are willing to "engage" me or not. "What a GNAT" LOL I was thinking of a different word ;) . Anyway, I so appreciate your calming and encouraging words, I would like to send your little patient a gift for sharing his mommy with me during my time of "panic". I now have a hobby stay-at-home business making hats and would like to send him one as a get well gift. Does he like Minions, Angry Birds, Owls, Monsters' Inc., Cats? or you may pick one out of you would like more ideas I have a facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CrochetHatsByCarolynMcAndie where I have a bunch of photos under my Photo/Albums page. Thanks again!!!
Can you private message me on my facebook page your address? I'll get a Minion in the mail today :)
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