Column Extra: Investigation of California Fair Employment and Housing details department’s resistence to probe, why some witnesses weren’t credible

jortiz@sacbee.comJuly 17, 2014 

Personnel Board Resolution and Order Following Investigative Hearing Case 13-1216A

The State Worker column this week delves into alleged shenanigans at the Department of Fair Employment and Housing detailed in a new investigative report by the State Personnel Board.

The gist: A department personnel officer allegedly manipulated in-house candidate lists for an investigative position to exclude qualified candidates and select an employee for the job who wasn’t qualified. Then, according to the report, the department’s second-in-command gave contradictory statements about the degree to which the promoted employee’s qualifications were vetted.

But there were other details of the report that we didn’t have space to chronicle, including:

Page 7: The department objected “for a variety of reasons” to a subpoena issued to Deputy Director Monica Rae requiring her to submit to an investigative interview and to turn over documents. The department also demanded the personnel board cover “witness fees and mileage.” The report cites government code that indicates those objections and others were “misplaced.”

The department did turn over the records, according to the report, but they were “improperly redacted,” the report says, “in an effort to eliminate references or discussions concerning any other job applicant” other than the employee who was illegally promoted.

Page 10: Administrative Law Judge Bruce Monfross noted Fair Employment lawyer Phoebe Liu may have told employees under investigation how to answer specific questions during interviews. Such coaching is “impermissible,” Monfross noted, and rendered testimony “suspect.”

Pages 16, 20, 27, 32, 38, 40: Also check out the “credibility determination” at the end of each interview summary that explains Monfross’ rationale for whether a particular witness gave reliable testimony. It’s an interesting glimpse into how an investigator weighs words and reads body language.

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes, the documents and the observations that inform what's published.

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