TO: LAWRENCE LUCAS
COALITION FOR MINORITY EMPLOYEES
FROM: CONCERNED USDA EMPLOYEES
SUBJECT: ISSUES FOR THE COALITION TO ADDRESS
WITH THE HONORABLE MARGO MCKAY
DATE: NOVEMBER 15, 2006
It is our collective belief that the USDA Office of Civil Rights (CR) could and should be the
federal “flagship” program in the metropolitan area for civil rights, and the model for other
federal agencies to emulate. This is especially true in light of the fact that the USDA Graduate
School is highly recognized and respected for its excellence in education. However, due to a
long history of mismanagement, this is not the case.
As civil rights professionals, we take pride in the mission of CR, even though we are suffering as
a result of CR management’s bullying and abuse. We are painfully aware of the negative
reputation that CR has acquired during the last few decades. We would sincerely like to change
this perception and have concluded that the overriding problem with CR has been in its
management and vicariously its enforcement. In the last few years interested parties have issued
report after report that have identified glaring deficiencies within CR. CR has a widely
recognized and well-established pattern and practice of mismanagement, as demonstrated by the
numerous substantiated reports of gross mismanagement.
Based upon the continuous feedback concerning CR performance that CR management has been
given throughout the years by interested parties, one would think that responsible officials would
have taken all the necessary actions to “fix the problems.” The problems identified in these
reports pointed critically to CR management as being the largest part of the problem. It appears
that CR management has instead, projected their own failures onto the CR employees and treats
the employees as if they are the problem instead of looking inward. CR management is
apparently unwilling or incapable of recognizing that as the leaders of this organization, they
must bear the brunt of the responsibility for how CR is managed.
Based upon the foregoing, we have concluded that forming a Union, talking to the leadership of
the Coalition for Minority Employees, and lastly going to Nancy Pelosi is our last refuge for
obtaining fairness and equal opportunity in CR. It is our purpose and hope that through these
actions, CR will someday become the organization that we collectively believe that it can be -- a
shining example of fairness, equality and opportunity that is respected as a model program for all
The following issues underscore our previous assertions. While there are a number of other
issues that need to be addressed within CR, the issues that we presently raise in this document
deserve immediate attention and redress.1/
As an aside, on June 6-7, 2006, the Complaints Adjudication Division (CAD) and Program
Complaint Division (PCD) held a joint retreat. On the last day of the retreat, management
requested a list of concerns from the staff that they would address. This list of concerns was
presented to management as requested, however despite management’s representations; these
concerns have never been addressed. (Attachment 2)
Clyde Thompson hired Connie Bails as the Deputy Director for CR after he determined that
Sadhna True was not as firm with the employees as he had hoped. Connie Bails was hired to
“get the employees in line” because Clyde felt that the employees were “out of control.” Clyde
felt that Connie’s “iron fist” management style was crucial to the accomplishment of this
Shortly after Connie Bails arrived she had several discrimination complaints filed against her.
Connie Bails quickly came to be known for her racist comments such as calling people
“niggers,” asking light-skinned employees if they think that they are better than other blacks
because of the color of their skin, making public declarations that wheel-chair bound employees
“know they can walk, why don’t they stop trying to fool people”, and she has also told
employees to, “watch out for that white man he will do you in,” when referring to Caucasian
male employees. She has openly complained to employees about other employees who in her
opinion are too fat, too dumb, too sneaky, or think that they are smarter than everyone else. She
has commented several times about employees who smoke too much, thereby requiring frequent
breaks, and has referred to women in the office who wear skirts that she deems to be too short as
Several employees who Connie Bails made these discriminatory remarks and comments to have
provided statement and affidavits regarding these remarks. However, because these employees
fear extreme retaliation and the No Fear requirements are ignored; these statements and
affidavits were not included in this report. These discriminatory statements taken in conjunction
with the actions taken against the persons who these statements were made clearly violate Title
VII, which is ironically one of the very laws that the Office of Civil Rights is charged with
The Connie Bails Clyde Thompson approved campaign of hostility, reaches all levels. She has
openly attacked Administrative Support staff, Equal Opportunity Assistants, Equal Opportunity
Specialists, Human Resource Specialists, Management Analysts, and even management. Connie
Bails is known for pitting employees against one another, pitting managers against other
managers, pitting managers against employees and employees against managers. Connie Bails
constantly reminds CR employees that she has a psychology degree, and her specialization is
group dynamics, which results in her being well versed on how to manipulate groups.2/
The harassment and hostility against employees by Connie Bails has been exercised through
individual meetings, group meetings, and hallway confrontations. Connie Bails has intentionally
held up the work of the Administrative Support staff resulting in problems for the supervisors of
the Administrative Support staff. Connie Bails has also on more than one occasion refused to
sign or withheld the time and attendance reports (T & As), for the divisions where she has been
an acting chief for no apparent reason. As a result, Betty Stiehm of Human Resources has often
called and inquired as to the whereabouts of T & As.
Connie Bails takes and/or fails to take personnel actions in violation of the merit system
principles found at 5 U.S.C. § 2301. These prohibited personnel practices consist of:
discriminating against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability
and marital status. Connie Bails gives unauthorized preferences and advantages to favored
employees so as to improve the prospects of her favorite employees, and injure the prospects of
other employees. (Attachment 3)
Connie Bails has strict requirements regarding time and attendance and employees leaving the
building for breakfast and lunch that she does not apply equally across the board. Connie Bails
looks the other way when her favorite employees are late or leave the building in the mornings
for breakfast, or take long lunches. These favorite employees are also not required to fill out
leave slips when arriving to work late or when leaving the building at 9:45 to go shopping.
We, the CR employees strongly feel that Connie Bails has been extremely bad for this
organization. Her open discriminatory comments with respect to the race, color, national origin,
economic status, familial status, weight, background and even personal criticisms against a
number of CR employees is staggering and inappropriate for any office. However, it is even
more unprofessional and inappropriate for CR.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for CR began the implementation of 13 significant civil
rights related initiatives in October 2003. The purpose of these initiatives among other things
was to reduce complaints and to change the culture within CR. Initiative 12 is one of the 13
Initiatives slated for implementation by all of ASCR. Initiative 12 requires that CR and the
Office of Human Resources Management revise and implement an Accountability Policy to
ensure that personnel actions include specific corrective and disciplinary measures for any
USDA employee who violates antidiscrimination laws. We are therefore asking for the removal
of Connie Bails from CR. It should be noted Sadhna True has direct knowledge of these events
and has done nothing to address the matter. (Attachment 4)
Carol Sanders is a bona fide beneficiary of the prohibited personnel practices of Connie Bails.
Connie Bails arranged for Carol Sanders to be the Acting Team Leader for PCD from July 2005
to March of 2006. Connie Bails continued this arrangement despite the requests of several senior
investigators that the Acting Team Leader position be rotated to allow each of the investigators
to receive the same developmental opportunity as Ms. Sanders. Connie Bails adamantly refused
this request, stating that she wanted Carol Sanders to continue as the Acting Team Leader,
because she did not like rotations.
Here, in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 2301, Connie Bails gave Carol Sanders, her most favored
employee, an unauthorized preference and advantage, which improved the employment
prospects of Carol Sanders, and injured the prospects of other employees. In addition, Connie
Bails gave Carol Sanders an advantage in this employment recommendation based on factors
other than personal knowledge or records of job related abilities or characteristics.
Connie Bails was not the selecting official for the Team Leader position, however she was
deeply involved with the selection process, along with Kenneth Baisden (the at that time new
Chief of Investigations) and Sadhna True. When the Team Leader position was announced and a
selection made, it was no surprise to anyone that Carol Sanders was selected for the position
since Connie Bails gave Carol Sanders an unfair advantage over other qualified applicants by
allowing Carol to act in the position of Acting Team Leader for over a year. Under Sadhna G.
True, Carol Sanders also served as Acting Team Leader for over one year. As a result of
management’s actions Carol Sanders’ prospects for being selected for the position improved.
Carol Sanders was given an unfair advantage over the other employees/applicants because she
possessed more supervisory experience than the other qualified employees/applicants who had
been denied the developmental opportunity of Acting Team Leader for the past two years. This
is a prohibited personnel practice under 5 U.S.C. § 2301.
Because her true qualifications for the job were never adequately assessed, Carol Sanders via
Connie Bails now employs Kathlynne Ramirez GS-9 and Donna Gaskins GS-12, to review the
reports of investigation of the other investigators. Carol also uses Sidney Wiggins GS-13 to
assign and review the reports of investigation. Carol Sanders employs Lolita Ellis to edit the
work of the specialists. These are the duties and responsibilities of
Carol Sanders as a GS-14. By utilizing other employees to do her work, Carol Sanders has
circumvented her duties and responsibilities and has ample time to carry out the extracurricular
harassment activities as designated by Connie Bails.
Per Connie Bails, Lolita Ellis4/ is currently absorbing the duties of other employees and thereby
diluting the duties of valuable employees. It is widely recognized that when an employee’s
duties are diluted that it has somehow been orchestrated behind the scenes by Connie Bails.
EMPLOYEES ARE PLACED IN POSITIONS WITHOUT THE POSITION
DESCRIPTION AND/OR POSITION BEING PROCESSED AND CLASSIFIED
THROUGH HUMAN RESOURCES
Because employees are placed in positions without the vacancy announcements or required
paperwork to detail or announce positions, opportunities are not openly available for all equally
qualified applicants to compete and/or request details. The following employees are currently in
positions where a vacancy announcement was not posted: Kirk Baylor, Susan Notar, Rhondi
Hammond Barbara Lincoln-Smith and Maurice Thompson. Because these positions were not
advertised other qualified employees were not given an opportunity to compete for these
positions. It should be noted that Sadhna True placed these employees in these positions. We
want these prohibited personnel practices to cease and desist.
NON-SUPERVISORY GS-14s ARE CURRENTLY MANAGING AND SUPERVISING
There are four non-supervisory GS-14s who are currently supervising employees: Maurice
Thompson, Data Management and Customer Service Division; Calvin Gibson, Accountability
and Resource Management Division; Kirk Baylor, Civil Rights Service Division, and Jean
Parker and Anna Stroman, Equal Opportunity/Compliance Division (EOCD). These nonsupervisory
GS-14s are daily performing management functions
such as: signing T & A’s and leave slips, denying leave, assigning work, rating employees,
providing performance evaluations and disciplining employees. For the record Sadhna True
placed these employees in these positions. (Attachment 5)
GS-9 EMPLOYEES ARE ASSIGNED AS TEAM LEADERS OVER GS-13 EMPLOYEES
ON SPECIAL PROJECTS
Jeffery Carr who is a GS-9 is continuously placed in lead positions over employees who he has
less seniority. Jeffery Carr is currently the Team Leader on the Complaints Special Project
within PCD over Deborah Davis GS-13 and Rhondi Hammond GS-12.
Kathlynne Ramirez GS-9 was assigned as Team Leader for the “Parts” team that was designed to
overhaul the intake process. Working under Kathlynne are Darrell Brown GS-13 and Shawntey
Fox GS-13. These assignments were made with the full knowledge and approval of Sadhna
Certain CR employees have been allowed to transfer if they were experiencing difficulty within
their division, their work and/or with their supervisor. These transfers were allowed for various
reasons. However, the transfer requests of other employees are routinely denied. (Attachment
The only employees who are allowed transfers are those employees who are management
favorites. The following employees have been allowed transfers:
Barbara Lincoln-Smith was unofficially allowed by Sadhna True to be transferred from the
Employment Complaints Division to the Data Management and Customer Service Division.
Barbara Lincoln-Smith is currently permanently in the position and has been attending
management training presumably for the GS-14 position that will soon be announced. This
vacancy was not announced.
Rhondi Hammond was unofficially allowed to transfer from the Civil Rights Services Division
to the Program Complaints Division because she did not get along with her supervisor Larry
Sversha Kumar was allowed to transfer from the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Division to
Outreach because she did not like the way that her supervisor Skip Day talked to her.
The following employees were denied transfers without explanation:
CAD SPECIALISTS WORK ON A PRODUCTION BASIS BUT ARE NOT GIVEN
CREDIT FOR 50% OF THE WORK THEY COMPLETE WHICH PROHIBITS THEM
FROM SATISFYING THE QUOTAS SET FORTH IN THEIR PERFORMANCE
Ted Gutman announced in a January 2006 staff meeting that CAD Specialists would no longer
receive credit for 50% of the work that they are required to perform. Thus, CR management is
allowing Ted Gutman to set up a system presumably designed for CAD Specialists to fail. By
disallowing credit for 50% of the work CAD Specialists are required to perform the likelihood
increases that employees will receive low performance evaluations.
CAD Specialists are NOT given credit for:
Compliance Final Agency Decisions
CAD Specialists are ONLY given credit for:
Program Final Agency Decisions
Employment Final Agency Decisions
When queried about the new performance evaluation method, Ted Gutman emphatically
announced that he felt that the work involved in reviewing and writing Non-compliance Final
Agency Decisions, AJ Decisions, Civil Actions, Settlement Agreements, HUD Closures and
Withdrawals was straightforward and uncomplicated. As such, he stated that it was his decision
that this work did not merit being counted. This is an unfair labor practice, which CAD
employees would like to see discontinued. Sadhna True is aware of this and supports this action
because it will allow Ted Gutman to rate employees low and that is a goal of Sadhna True.
The CAD Specialists strongly object to this practice and would like to see a return to a fair and
balanced method of calculating the production level. In the past, CAD Specialists were given
credit for EVERYTHING they completed. If, under this system credit for one Final Agency
Decision were given for every five AJs completed, it would be a vast improvement over the
current system. CAD specialists would like to be given credit for ALL the work that they
perform. (Attachment 7)
It should be noted that Ted Gutman is known as a chronic complainer who spends the balance of
his time harassing employees by sending derogatory e-mails regarding the incompetence of their
work, the incompetence of other CR staff, CR managers, temporary personnel and it never
ceases. Ted Gutman does not have a background in Title VI or Title VII, and attempts to
discredit the work and ability of others so as not to draw attention to his own deficiencies,
incompetence and lack of managerial skills.
Based on this behavior Ted Gutman has had several hostile work environment complaints filed
against him by women and minorities. These complaints were filed against him at his previous
agency Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, and in his current position in CR.
MAXI-FLEX POLICY OF TED GUTMAN
On June 19, 2006, Ted Gutman, Chief of CAD announced to his staff that they would now be
able to use Maxi-Flex. Ted Gutman’s announcement was based on a March 21, 2005,
memorandum from Clyde Thompson. In Mr. Thompson’s memorandum he informed ASCR
employees that they would now be able to use Maxi-Flex, and that the morning core hours for
ASCR begin at 6:30 a.m.
Ted Gutman has overridden Mr. Thompson’s policy (with the full knowledge of Sadhna True)
and has denied the request of some employees to begin their tour of duty at 6:30 a.m., (even
though these employees are in the office everyday at 6:30 a.m.). Ted Gutman is treating his staff
differently from other employees within CR. Other employees and managers are currently
allowed to arrive at 6:30 a.m. In addition, two employees were previously approved and had
been working the 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. schedule prior to Mr. Gutman coming on-board. We
would like to be allowed to follow Mr. Thompson’s policy regarding core hours. (Attachment 8)
Under the former Director of CR David Winningham, employees whose jobs were deemed
portable were allowed to work from home one to two days per week. Under Clyde Thompson,
USDA’s Tele-Work Champion, (according to USDA News), Tele-Work was discontinued so
that “employees could devote their time and efforts to the Inventory/Backlog Reduction
Initiative.” CR employees have not been allowed to Tele-
Work in the three years that Mr. Thompson has been the Associate Assistant Secretary for CR.
Since CR “no longer has a backlog” CR employees are requesting the return of Tele-Work.
There is a pattern and practice of management disapproving training requests from CR
employees. For the last three years management has requested the staff to fill out Individual
Development Plans (IDP) and to also request any desired training. The overwhelming majority
of training requests are denied. As a result a large number of CR employees have elected not to
fill out IDPs or to request training. It should be noted that some managers are allowed to take up
to two or three expensive training courses, often not in their field
Employees who have been working in the Intake Division of PCD are now required to perform
assignments in the Investigations Division of PCD. These new assignments entail conducting
investigations, which includes interviewing witnesses, taking sworn statements and preparing
reports of investigation. All of these duties are required to be completed without formal training.
The CR employees are requesting management to honor reasonable requests for formal training
for every qualified employee.
In addition, the Administrative Support staff would like to request formal training in subject
matters that would broaden their horizons and allow them to excel in their careers. Specifically
the Administrative Support staff would like to request training on the RUMBA Travel Database
System (not informal training). Connie Bails has instructed Diane Davis-Wright, the one
Administrative Support staff employee who is familiar with RUMBA not to train or assist the
other Administrative Support staff level employees who are requesting her guidance. Sadhna
True approved this action.
The Administrative Support staffs that are the most in need of training have routinely been
denied requests for college courses. On the other hand, the similar requests for tuition
reimbursement and regular training courses of management and employees favored by
management have consistently been approved. Sadhna True has approved this action. The CR
employees are requesting management to honor reasonable requests for tuition reimbursement
for every qualified employee.
LACK OF NECESSARY EQUIPMENT
The employees in the Employment Complaint Division (ECD) do not have the necessary
equipment to perform their jobs. The ECD employees are forced to work with outdated
software, dilapidated monitors, printers, copiers, fax machines and telephone equipment. There
is also a lack of adequate conference room space and furnishing.
CAD does not have a working Xerox machine.
The employees in the Data Management and Customer Services Division do not have a
functioning fax machine, copier or shredder.
In addition, CR employees are subject to verbal abuse and scrutiny by management when
requesting the necessary supplies and tools to adequately perform their duties. This is contrary
to the conditions of the other Divisions per Sadhna True.
EMPLOYEES ARE STILL REQUIRED TO E-MAIL UPON ARRIVAL
The employees are constantly attacked regarding their T & A(s) as approved by Sadhna True.
Although management denies this fact, some employees in EOCD and EEOD are still required to
e-mail the Team Leader Anna Stroman and/or Connie Bails upon their arrival. We would like to
see and end to this practice. (Attachment 10)
In closing, the employees would like to say that this was a nice place to work prior to the current
group of managers. Because of their incompetence and corruption the environment has changed.
This is a rogue group of managers who have no respect for laws, rules, regulations, attorneys or
As stated earlier, Clyde Thompson is the author of this current confusion and he should be
removed. Clyde Thompson’s adventures and misconduct in his previous position at the Forest
Service and his misconduct in his current position are well documented. The reason for his
extreme disdain for CR employees is unknown. However, what we do know is that this very
powerful man has done a lot of damage to a good organization, and if he is kept around any
longer recovery may not be possible.
1/ all of the planned management actions stated herein have been conducted at the direction and consent of Clyde
Thompson, Associate Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, and Sadhna G. True, Director, Office of Civil Rights, and
presumed to have been conducted with the full knowledge and approval of Annabelle Romero, Deputy Assistant
Secretary for Civil Rights.
2/ it should be noted that since the Union has filed grievances against Connie Bails, and several employees have
filed complaints against her, she now conducts her prohibited personnel practices under a veil of secrecy.
employees have expressed that they are experiencing ongoing harassment by Connie Bails via Carol Sanders GS-14,
Carmen Velasquez GS-14, Michelle Eiland GS-14, Maurice Thompson, Ted Gutman, and other CR managers.
3/ it should also be noted that CR management has for many years circumvented USDA’s Merit Promotion policies
to the extent that merit principles and policies are non-existent within CR. Instead, CR management has created a
hostile environment that is wholly dependent upon a system of “favoritism,” i.e., in order to obtain training,
promotions, etc., employees must literally conform to the whims and nuances of managers, without question, even if
they are asked to perform or witness unethical or illegal tasks. These individuals are usually the least talented CR
employees and because of this system of promotion they are continually promoted to the chagrin of the truly
talented employees, and subject matter experts.
4/ this is especially disturbing in light of the fact that Connie Bails allowed Carol Sanders to be the Acting Team
Leader in PCD from July 2005 to March of 2006.