Friday, December 13, 2013 9:22 AM
Published on: Thursday, November 17, 2011
By Christa Puccio, Staff Writer
ROCKVILLE - Former Rockville city clerk, Glenda Evans, is accusing the City of Rockville of discriminating against her as a black female employee. Evans resigned on Sept. 23 and says has waited to come forward until after the election out of respect for the democratic process. She hasn’t said whether or not she will pursue her complaints in court.
“The deputy clerk [Brenda Bean] started a rumor that I didn’t like white people,” said Evans. “That really started it. Can you imagine that in a city like Rockville? ”
The City of Rockville refused to comment on Evans’ allegations, but did provide a statement. “Rockville is a diverse community and the City has a diverse workforce,” said Marylou Berg, communications manager for the City of Rockville. “Rockville prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and sex or any other unlawful basis, and the City has long maintained a policy against discrimination in City employment. However, it would not be appropriate to comment on an individual employee, former employee or that employee’s situation.”
“Well, she never turned to me or any of my colleagues on the council to say there was a problem,” said former Councilmember Piotr Gajewski. “The sequence of events as I’m aware of it is: she was hired, she did her job, if there were some issues she was dealing with, she was dealing with them unbeknownst to her supervisor, her annual review came up, an initial meeting was held to begin the process, and the day after that, she quit. We were surprised.”
Evans said she went to Human Resources Director Carlos Vargas with her concerns about Bean, but that his response was not helpful.
Evans says Bean’s assertion led Vargas to take the rest of the staff to dinner to discuss the allegation, something Evans didn’t find out about until after the fact.
“He never came to me to validate it. Yet, when I come to him and complain about the way one of the employees is treating me as a black female, they go over above and beyond to discredit me. When I complained about how employees were treating me, that stuff would end up in my personnel file.”
The Chief Human Resources Officer Carlos Vargas refused to comment. Deputy Clerk Brenda Bean has been employed by the City of Rockville for more than 20 years, and has been acting as city clerk since Evan’s resignation.
“I looked in [Bean’s] personnel file before I left and there is nothing negative in hers, and I can tell you I was documenting everything she did and I would carbon copy human resources,” said Evans. “I mean her work ethic, she would be late and not call in, I would ask her to do something and she would be insubordinate. The HR Director would never help me with this woman.”
Evans said that she was mistreated before she even started her first day in Rockville. “I found out before I even got there that they had ‘found me’ on Facebook,” said Evans. “I said that that cannot be true because my Facebook page is closed. I happen to know that there is another Glenda Evans in Detroit because some of my friends have worked with her. What they found on her page were some things that, if this were to have been my page, were unflattering for me as a professional. Can you imagine people spreading rumors about you before you even come through the door?”
Evans said she was treated unfairly, City Manager Scott Ullery sent an email to Vargas complaining that he was not informed of a problem within the graphics department by Evans. Evans said that it was not her responsibility to inform Ullery, but the email was placed in Evans’ personnel file. “That’s not my fault,” said Evans. “That’s his department. And how do you let the city manager put stuff in my file? He’s my peer.”
“I asked for a car allowance in April and it turned into a debacle,” said Evans. “I was berated and humiliated. So I told them ok, you know what I don’t want it if you’re going to berate me about asking for something that every city senior staff receives, except me. So what does Councilmember John Britton do? He reprimands me because I wouldn’t allow for him to humiliate me at the meeting. His memo to me was awful.”
The email sent to Evans and Vargas from Britton was also placed in her personnel file. According to the e-mail, her behavior “bordered on being rude, if not actually crossing the line.” He also stated that it was “not appropriate behavior for [her] to interrupt [him] and talk over [him] when [he] has the floor, particularly as [he] was raising issues that needed to be addressed concerning [her] request. [He] was offended by this behavior and [her] unilateral decision to cease discussion.”
Britton said he could not comment on the matter. “I can’t answer any questions about Glenda because it’s a personnel matter, and sounds like it’s all going to go to litigation,” said Britton.
The day after the meeting, Councilmember Mark Pierzchala wrote Evans an email in response to the way she was treated at the meeting. “Let’s meet next week and talk about what happened,” stated Pierzchala in the email. “The events of last night weren’t about you at all; you were caught in the crossfire. I can explain it to you then.”
Evans said that the crossfire was between Britton and Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio.
Another string of emails Evans said was put in her file unjustly had to do with a mistake on a sign for an event hosted by outgoing Councilmember Piotr Gajewski. He sent her an email stating, “Most annoying last night was the sign at the city Hall entrance that listed my meeting at 7:30 instead of 8:00. I understand from the nice lady at the desk that someone who came early (at around 7:40), actually left five minutes later, assuming that the meeting was cancelled because the sign out front said 7:30 and I was not there. Unacceptable! Also the sign said Council Piotr Gajewski (instead of Councilmember). All very sloppy and annoying, and in the case of the constituent who came and left (surely not so happy) especially aggravating. I hope attention to such important detail can be improved.”
“I remember that vaguely,” said Gajewski. “The sign was wrong and I was annoyed and wrote an email –I sent an email to who I thought was in charge, I wasn’t even sure it was Glenda, so I think I also sent it to somebody else, I just wanted to make sure it reached whoever was in charge. The appropriate response is for her to simply write back that ‘this isn’t my responsibility.’ I myself never touched her personnel file.”
Evans explained in her email response to Gajewski that the City Manager and the administrative coordinator who directly supervise the information desk were responsible for the error. That email conversation was still placed in Evans personnel file.
Despite these items being placed in Evans personnel file, her six-month review in March was positive. “Clearly Ms. Evans has demonstrated that her skills in information technology have modified and improved the workflow and operations in the Clerk’s Office,” wrote Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio on March 22, 2011 for Evans’ six-month review. “The Mayor and Council unanimously agree that Ms. Evans had fulfilled the duties as outlined in her job description and gave her a vote of confidence.”
The City of Rockville Personnel Policy and Procedure Manual for the Procedure on Discipline and Discharge says that the Director of Personnel, Vargas, has been authorized by the City Manager to implement disciplinary procedures. In an event that a disciplinary action must be taken, a verbal warning may be given which is defined as being between the immediate supervisor and the employee. Such warnings may be reported to the Director of Personnel. In addition a written warning may also be given which is defined as a memorandum from the immediate supervisor to the employee with a copy to the Personnel file.
The Personnel Policy and Procedure Manual also states that, “In order to enhance and clarify the actions of all the forms of discipline listed, those requiring a written memorandum should also be verbally explained to and discussed with the employee by the initiating supervisor whenever possible. At all levels of discipline the supervisor should document and maintain notes of actions, discussions, etc.” Evans said she was not made aware of what was placed in her file until she looked in her file herself.
“They didn’t want to get rid of me,” said Evans. “They just wanted me to behave the way that they thought that I should. They have a problem with diversity.”
Posted By: Pat Duran On: 11/22/2013
Title: Vargas needs to answer some questiions
Is there any kind of standardized process for complaints about performance to be addressed? It certainly doesn't sound like it. Anytime a complaint is documented, on paper or email, it should be addressed with the employee. Why did Vargas allow all sorts of complaints to go into this employee's file without addressing them with her? It sounds as tho HR does allow the personnel files to be used as a trash basket for unsubstantiated and unaddressed complaints. Someone needs to take this up with Vargas.
Posted By: It is what is On: 12/7/2011
Title: Edmund Burke ...
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Posted By: On to bigger and better things. On: 11/22/2011
Title: City Hall
City Hall has been regressing in this way for years. I too am a former City Employee who was discredited in an effort to get rid of me. I cannot reveal my identity, but I was terminated with no real just cause and am in the process of filing suit against the City. The need to clean up their act or they will continue to put themselves in this situation.
Posted By: Wilma Bell On: 11/21/2011
It's a sad day for the City of Rockville. As for those posting vicious, anonymous comments, be reminded that using real identities carry extra weight and credibility. They always have, they always will. Hiding behind the cloak of anoymity is a coward's maneuver.
Posted By: City Resident II On: 11/21/2011
As a member of a minority community, I'm very sensitive to such topics. However, this article makes it sound like Ms. Evans simply overreacted to goings-on in the city government, made a mountain out of a mole-hill with respect to items in her "personnel file" and quit in order to sue the city. The statement that they "didn't want to get rid of me......(but) wanted me to behave the way they thought I should" is kind of revealing, and not in a flattering way, toward Ms. Evans. Most of all, there isn't much in this article that would indicate to me that race was a factor in anything. So why then this accusation about behavior means "they" have a problem with diversity seems suspect. Alas, I suppose if Ms. Evans has a case it will be known in court on the facts. From this article I don't see it, but that's why we have a justice system...
Posted By: Molly On: 11/21/2011
Wow, poor woman. I hope she gets some justice.
Posted By: laura h On: 11/18/2011
Boo hoo. It's always the race card isn't it?
Posted By: Don't Know On: 11/17/2011
Well if ? What i am reading from "HER" own word's ? Didn't want to get rid of Me ! They just wanted Me To do the job "That they were PAYING Me to Do" and NOT how "I/Me/Myself" wanted to do it ? Unless there's something that hidden and not out yet ? Sound's like she didn't want to work for the "Man/Woman" ? unless it was her way ? Again "Unless there's something hidden and more to this" that's not out Yet ?
Posted By: Sheryl Mitchell aka One Who Cares On: 11/17/2011
to editor: I sent a comment as "One Who Cares". However, if your policy requires my actual name, please feel free to include it.
Posted By: One who cares On: 11/17/2011
Title: The Rockville Way - needs to end
Items were placed in the personnel file of the City Clerk without her knowledge and in an apparent attempt to humiliate and disparage her reputation. The question that residents, as well as, the Mayor and Council should be asking are:
- who authorized placing these items on the file?
- if the Human Resources Director was aware of the existence of these documents? And if so, why was the Clerk's personnel file permitted to be treated as a "dump" for any and all unsubstantiated allegations, without even being given a fair opportunity to respond?
- why hasn't there been a request for an outside agency to investigate this situation?
- the City Attorney was aware of the hostility directed towards the clerk along with the disparate treatment, especially the request for the car allowance provided to ALL senior staff. Yet, published minutes do not show that at any time did she advice the city that to deny this benefit to the clerk, without a justifiable reason, would appear discriminatory.
- Why would an employee, with well documented performance, attendance and behavior problems be promoted to serve as interim Clerk along with a salary increase?
Having known Ms. Evans for many years, she is a consummate professional. She truly loved her job. However, it is understandable how she could not withstand the constant barrage of hostile, demeaning and cowardly actions by a few individuals.
No one should be expected to remain under demonstrably intolerable work conditions. The issue extends beyond discriminatory actions on the basis of race, age or sex. The question is why would Rockville allow petty political power grabs to overshadow a stellar performance.
If this is THE ROCKVILLE WAY...then perhaps it is time to change.
Posted By: City Resident On: 11/17/2011
Why am I reminded of little Johnny in the marching band when his parents observed that he was in step and the other 99 band members were all out of step. For this unhappy former employee life is made simple when it can all be explained by the racists she claims surrounded her. There are none so blind as those who WON'T see. I for one say "good riddance" and pity her next employer. Sadly we the tax paying residents will be forced to pay for her coming (and clearly baseless) lawsuit. But such is life when the city hires such malcontents.