My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Problems at California Census offices result in major complaints from female Census Bureau managers

In recent days, I have received many complaints from Census Bureau employees about the poor quality of their managers. I encourage people with problems to write up their stories and I will publish them here. The following document does not represent the opinions of Stephen Robert Morse or MyTwoCensus.com, but rather the female manager from California who sent me this piece. Inside you will see her opinions about fraud and abuse by Census Bureau management as well as discriminatory treatment of staff and information about the process of filing complaints:

Three female managers in the Santa Maria, CA, Local Census Office, Los Angeles Region filed EEO complaints against our Area Manager, Araceli Barcelo and Assistant Regional Census Center Manager, Jeff Enos. Enos had been our Area Manager and was promoted to ARCM. Barcelo had been a Regional Tech for Enos and was promoted to Area Manager. Those in our office who filed complaints include the Assistant Manager Administration, the Assistant Manager Technology and me, the Local Census Office Manager.  We filed complaints because Araceli Barcelo and Jeff Enos rehired a man (I won’t name him as he is also part of our complaint and not a manager) who had abused and sexually harassed women in our office.  Both Area Manager Barcelo and ARCM Enos knew about this man’s behavior and never did anything to stop it. The behavior was well documented and ARCM Enos had the documentation.  There was a very volatile incident in our office where this man yelled, made an inappropriate comment and a menacing gesture directed at our AMT.  This happened while we were on a teleconference with Jeff Enos.  This man also “cussed out” Jeff Enos and Enos did nothing.  Later Enos called me and told me to handle the situation with this man because “he did not like to do those types of things”.  The next day, the man resigned while I was writing him up.  Jeff Enos should have disciplined this man.  The Local Census Office Manager does not hire, fire or discipline managers.  That is the responsibility of the Area Manager.

After the three of us, female managers, learned this man had been rehired during a teleconference with Araceli Barcelo, we filed EEO complaints. We filed complaints because management had not dealt with this man’s illegal and abusive behavior, had rehired him and, then, given him a promotion as a Regional Tech in the area Araceli Barcelo supervises.   The women in our office were told this man was to not come to our office.  However, as a Regional Tech, he now had access to our work and all our electronic files.  He could also show up at our door and gain entrance.  We filed because we feared he would harm us.  The statement from management that this man would not come to our office shows they knew he had done something wrong in our office.

This man was originally hired as a Group Quarters Supervisor in one of the Central Valley Offices about three hours from Santa Maria.  To do this, Barcelo needed to have used a fake address, a new geo coding, as office staff can only be hired from the local area.  This man lives in Santa Maria. Staff from our office sees him at the local gym quite regularly.  Barcelo had fired the LCOM and the Assistant Manager of Administration from one of the Central Valley offices for allowing the Administrative Assistant to use a fake address, her sister’s address so she could move with the LCOM to one of the new offices.  Why hasn’t Barcelo been fired for doing the same thing?

Araceli Barcelo with the direction of Jeff Enos has fired numerous managers in her area.  She uses her Regional Techs as spies.   Barcelo uses these spies to get information so Barcelo can build documentation on the managers.  While some of these managers may have been fired for performance issue, the majority have not.  Some of the managers have quit because they couldn’t deal with Barcelo’s harassing behavior, her firing of their staff and taking over the office to put pressure on the LCOM to quit or to find something to use against them.  After one LCOM quit, he contacted his Congressional Rep to complain about all the firings and a delegation from the Congressional Office went to L.A. to meet with James Christy, Regional Director.  However, the firings continue. Some of these managers had been with the 2010 Census since the offices opened in 2008.  The cost of hiring, training, firing, hiring a replacement and retraining is staggering and a huge waste of taxpayer money. But, then again, as many reports have stated, the Census Bureau has wasted enormous amounts of money. Nothing is done about Barcelo and her behavior as they don’t want to disrupt the operations.

If you complain about Barcelo or Enos or anything Barcelo does, you are subjected to retaliation.  All of us who have filed against her have received the brunt of her retaliatory behavior.  Some of us have been fired. I have been harassed by her every day since I complained about her. She calls us and makes snide, abusive and insulting remarks. She treats us like we, in the field offices are the enemies instead of helping us with the operations. She has made her Regional Techs scour everything in our office to build documentation on us. They looked at all our time sheets to find errors and, I was written up for it.  She had one of her Regional Techs, the hatchet man, go through every selection certificate we have handled since the office opened to find mistakes. He is the hatchet man because Barcelo uses him to find things so she can fire. Our Administration Department, by this time, had hired over 2,000 employees and was handling about 300 payroll documents a day.  Given the volume and speed of these transactions, since they are all on strict timelines, there will be mistakes.  Management claimed all offices were being audited.  This was a lie.  Barcelo conducted sham superficial audits of her other offices.  She used another RT to audit the work he had done when he was the Assistant Manager of Administration.  None of the offices in her area or offices reporting to other Area Managers received the depth of review or covered the timeframe audited in our office.  Some of the other offices were not audited. This was pure retaliation on the part of Barcelo and Enos.  Regional Director, James Christy and Deputy Director know about all of this as we have sent our complaints to them.  They turn a “deaf ear” as they don’t want to “disrupt the operations”.  Barcelo continues her abusive retaliatory behavior.

We filed our informal EEO complaints and the EEO Counselor contacted us within a week.  She tried to resolve the complaints but, of course, management refused to settle claiming they had done nothing wrong.  What we sought was to have management deal with this man who they rehired as they should have done originally, to have Barcelo and Enos disciplined for not dealing with this man’s behavior and for rehiring him with full knowledge of his behavior and to have our office moved from the chain of command of Barcelo and Enos as we knew they would retaliate.  Retaliate, they did.

We filed our formal complaints with the Decennial Office of Civil Rights, Kathryn H. Anderson, Deputy Director for Decennial Operations Office of Civil Rights, Washington, DC.  This was several weeks ago. We received notice from DD Anderson that our complaints had been received but, no decision as to whether our complaints had been accepted for processing or whether an investigator would contact us.

Last week, an LCOM from one of the Central Valley Offices called me. This LCOM and another manager from her office had also filed complaints but, were told by an EEO Counselor that the Decennial Office of Civil Rights is delaying processing the formal complaints so the Census Bureau can finish the operations.  None of our complaints have been processed.  This LCOM told me complainants are now filing with the Office of the Inspector General so that someone will do something to stop Barcelo’s behavior.

There is a statutory timeline for agencies to process complaints, 180 days.  When a federal agency/department/bureau stalls processing formal complaints, they can say they won’t be able to investigate the complaint within the 180 day and pass the complaint on to the EEOC.  The Office of Civil Rights, then, never investigates the complaints.  This discourages complainants, they give up or they don’t want to deal with another process, EEOC. This creates what is called a “chilling effect” on complainants.  The “chilling effect” has been used in the past by employers as a way to avoid having to deal with complaints and avoid correcting their illegal practices.  By stalling, the census operations will finish, the responsible management officials will be gone and documents will be destroyed.  And we know the Census Bureau is known for shredding and destroying documents and materials.  Also, by stalling processing and investigation of complaints, the Office of Civil Rights is giving benefit to management.  The OCR is to be an impartial finder of fact.  Giving management a benefit and not giving complainants their statutory rights makes the office biased toward management.  The only “right” the temporary decennial census employees have is civil rights.  Completing the Census does not trump civil rights laws.

By not conducting timely investigations of EEO complaints, the Census Bureau is giving license to managers to continue to engage in discriminatory/harassing and abusive behavior.  The managers see no consequences for their behavior and see EEO as a joke.  Araceli Barcelo has been quoted as saying: “I have so many EEO complaints filed against me but, I still sleep at night.”

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14 Responses to “Problems at California Census offices result in major complaints from female Census Bureau managers”

  1. PM Says:

    Before biasing an article by headlining with gender- at one office it is females in management/supervisory positions who have driven others to protest, or just to quit- one person said he wished he had left the week before instead of when planned, and several in the place have been intimidated by office bullying by the same people, one ready to file serious litigation- and she’s female, dealing with her own gender as the miscreants. The excuse is that they’re under stress. I’ve worked under stress for years, and never seen this before. People are saying that it’s not pleasant as it was a couple months ago- and these are people with even a stressful military live fire background, not career babysitters- and some of whom show the initiative I’d hire in a heartbeat, but have it beaten down by the bullies.

    The temperament at Census is out of hand: all the AMs at one office walking out, two at another coming apparently to fistfighting.

    The RTs visit us too, and one is taking serious notes about something, though I think them to be the most professional in the place (along with LCOM and AMA). It’s a crap shoot as to whom you’ll get from all these people thrown together right away, but the office politicians are the absolute worst, and belong in the annals of The Workplace Bullying Institute as the Ones to Avoid at All Costs; career nobodies who need to feel powerful are not what any good organization needs, and will kill its morale quicker than you can press Does Not Exist on the HHC.

    These people- the nasties in the article as well as any others- belong anywhere BUT on a team of pros- or just of earnest workers- who care about anything but getting their own way.

  2. Anon2 Says:

    I believe this article. Many UNPROFESSIONAL people working for the 2010 Census.

  3. Ines Says:

    The person responsible for writing the article is very specific about complaints filed but not specific at all as to their duties/responisibilites as an LCOM or the specific reasons for termination of employment. Allegations made seem to be very spiteful and seem to be contradictory. It also seems that the above mentioned office employees were more interested in filing EEO complaints against everyone rather than Census operations.

  4. vidaJ Says:

    Wow! Lots of complaints filed and no work happening!

  5. LCO-AM Says:

    There are too many “professional” EEOC complaint filers, IMO.

    Anyway, there is a lot of stress at the LCO’s right now, especially now.

    Inconsistent directives (justified by management via “professional” terms).

    Inadequate computer systems, both hard and soft.

    Unrealistic goals and an unimaginable push to make sure, no – THEY WILL BE ACHIEVED!

    And just cut the people hired some slack for the most part, seriously, how many of you work in a “diversified” workforce or even know what it means?

    It means you get the opportunity to work with people you never ever would of in most other situations, get over it, it is a mind-opening experience.

    Anyway, I really like this forum/web site – I realize the census is just as bad everywhere else.

    Hopefully someone other than the LCO teams will be held accountable. Seems like they are the patsies, the fall guys and gals, a shame, as there are quality people out there quickly becoming disgruntled with the way our Government operates…..

  6. Al Forteni Says:

    Just want to respond to Vida J, LCOM AM, & Ines. The Santa Maria Office has, from its inception, been one of the top producing offices in the LARCC. Every goal has been met before the deadline. We worked very closely with the community and our participation rate for the counties we covered was very good. Higher than the LA Area where a lot of money was spent on outreach. There was and is a lot of work going on and we were very focused on the operations, even with all the harassment. It was a model admired office and everyone who visited the office commented on how good the staff was. As far as “professional complaint filers”, none of the women have ever filed a complaint.

  7. PM Says:

    A little book comes to mind- it’s been circulating around: Robert Sutton’s “The No-Asshole Rule”. The EEO scheme is rife with opportunists, agreed. I heard of one award for $50k for someone looking at someone, long ago. But no amount of looking can compare with what I heard the gang was doing in our office to others as well as myself. I didn’t run afoul of this excreta at the big multinational architects, nor in showbusiness- chock full of egos- in years of that. I had two run-ins with pigs in that time, vs hearing just Friday that someone (who oddly complained she went from CL to clerk because she’s the wrong color- white) was spewing vitriol about me- and I never did anything to her frustrated *** at all (I actually used to think well of her- feeling as persecuted as she does- and tried to cheer her up). One other coworker just told me that one notorious bully threatened to “write him up” for having suggested that an earlier remark of hers was inappropriate. Silence, or else! You will do! Can’t you see I’m some kind of boss, now???

    Sure we’re from all over. So there’s a top producer- great. At what expense to one’s dignity, or even health? Remember- the Japanese and Nazis were top producers too, as they redistricted others into their own census tracts in China and Europe.

    There’s no excuse for becoming a beast toward your coworkers because you’d rather be home watching Oprah, or you saw them do this on some reality show, or you were a career receptionist in another job and see this as your big chance to stomp on someone else while looking good for “production”, especially when everyone here has equally little experience at this one. I’ve had more respect from Hell’s Angels and toasted Army Rangers. I’ve never been in a professional setting that was so messy- and this partly because of its “professionals” themselves. Some of us- lots of us- have way more self-esteem and respect for others, and should stay here. Those people are great- and you’ll see more production from a team that’s a team instead of a slave ship any day.

    It can be improved, and we all deserve it to. This griping we read has great value as to how not to run an agency. No- we don’t need to quit because we’re getting burned, as the few I know did: We need to show how much better Census can be with good people working for it.

    This site is great, thank you.

  8. AA Says:

    Most of these stories are pretty accurate, and I have discovered the same thing in my Local Census Office.

    People are fired for made up reasons or tiny, tiny clerical mistakes. Should you follow your written instructions or do what your supervisor tells you? Either one can get you fired depending on the mood of the boss and is in his/her interest at that moment. The hostility by some employees towards their staff or co-workers is unconscionable.

    This especially true if they want to get rid of you, if you challenge people to actually do their jobs correctly, if you notice waste, fraud, EEO violations (both in the office and the field work), etc.

    Should you stay as PM suggests? Only if you can afford to have a discharge for misconduct from a government job on your record.

  9. pamela Says:

    WoW!!! She just sounds like a c*nt!

  10. Bartholomew Says:

    I am an assistant manager in this region. Apparently there are more EEO complaints in this region than any other in the nation. I can vouch for MANY EEO violations in this area and most of them are justified. There are several problems at this point including the delay tactics of the Census EEO department. They are in no rush to resolve anything and by the time anything happens operations will be over and there will be no repercussion to Barcelo, Enos or the others involved. Also suspect in this issue is Claudia Catota the EEO specialist for this region who by all accounts appears to be in Barcelo’s pocket. There is much evidence that when a case is filed and Catota is assigned as the case rep, her first call is to Araceli. She is not representing the people filing the complaints.

  11. Al Forteni Says:

    Yes, they are still there. That is the reward they got.Reward the clueless, incompetent, uneducated, unsophisticated whose lack of confidence and ability to work out problems is masked by their cowardly control. They deny they did anything wrong. Barcelo especially and her buddy Enos supported by Christy and Lam. All of them worked together to do damage many employees. Numerous statements by employees, newspaper articles and tv news stories prove where there is smoke, ther is fire. Almost 100 complaints filed with several agencies and Congressional Offices regarding Barcelo’s and the LA Region’s mismanagement, harassment and discrimination. They have no real defense or justification for what they did. Well the lawsuits are coming. Read about it soon in your local newspapers. Barcelo and her cronies: Sal Ramirez, Sandra Aguilera, Geoffrey Rolat,Stacy Ramos are all in line for civil actions. They are relying on lies they are telling but, the truth will overshadow them. It is not over.

  12. george wilberg Says:

    I will be filing a lawsuit soon as my EEO complaint filed in Washington, DC while in process is being delayed beyond a reasonable period of time.

  13. Anon13 Says:

    I can say without any hesitation, that this region is led and managed by incompetent, unknowledgeable, unskilled, and unprofessional individuals who know and care nothing about performance. Their only criteria for hiring, firing, promoting, penalizing, etc. is maintaining management structure (their term). That is to say, the know they are incompetent and base all of their management decisions on keeping their own jobs and not bringing anyone into the fold who they feel poses a threat, even when knowledgeable, skilled, credentialed individuals are available, only want to do good work, and to be rewarded for it.

    This was by far the most offensive organization I have ever worked for or witnessed in my life. Friends and family were consistently hired and promoted to grades they were in no way qualified for, while other more qualified individuals were consistently kept on the bottom rungs. What has been said in the above piece and the comments about the individuals is absolutely true. This regional office is truly an example of government at it’s worst! You can be sure that there are many, many more lawsuits with validity that will never be filed due to threats of career consequences.

  14. GEORGE WILBERG Says:

    I think at this point a round of applause should be given to Stephen Robert Morse for his site. Without it I would have lost hope and not have proceeded with my own EEO complaint which started because of unprofessional behavior at CL and Area Manager positions. Even a trusted FOS was involved. By other posts just entered on this forum by the assistance of in my mind of so much of what is broken in Census I decided to proceed with my quest for justice for not just myself but other fellow Census employees. This I have done before I slip into the hereafter of history but with this last hurrah there just might be a landmark decision that will affect the way that the Department of Commerce handles future human resources of the people who actually conduct the Census operations. In my opinion from Industry there must come highly qualified oversight people that screen properly thos in charge. These people should know that their employees if treated fairly will return that favor and do an outstanding job. When in management before retirement you use positive constructive methods not destructive methods. The sins of the past will haunt us in the future-let this not be so as we all as Americans proceed into a future made brighter and stronger with a new resolve to fix what is wrong in the system. And I my opinion anything less could and not be accepted. With that I will tip my hat to you again giving you a big hip hip hurrah for your outstanding work and will let you know when I can the final result rendered by the Office of Civil Rights.