Monday, June 06, 2011

Akin Gump: Hoechst-Celanese -- Fax to Sister -- 1992

Note the defensiveness in the following fax I wrote in 1992 and transmitted to my sister about the quality of my work.  Obviously, I am reacting to negative comments about the quality of my work.  In fact, at the termination meeting at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld on October 29, 1991, attorney Dennis M. Race told me that his investigation of my harassment complaint disclosed that my work was of poor quality.  In a sworn declaration Dennis Race filed with the D.C. Department of Human Rights (May 22, 1992), he stated that the quality of my work was not a factor in the decision to terminate my employment.  I wrote the following fax some time in 1992.  It was not until December 23, 1992 that I received via the USPS a copy of Akin Gump's sworn declaration, at which time I learned that Akin Gump's "final story" was that my work quality was not a factor in the termination decision.  Presumably, (unidentified) staff persons had lied to Dennis Race about the quality of my work during the course of his investigation, but Dennis Race -- a management attorney with years of litigation experience that included the cross-examination of witnesses -- failed to uncover that staff had lied about me. 
______________________

FAX NO. 609 235 5569 MEREDITH FINANCIAL SERVICES
transmittal for Mrs. Estelle Jacobson for Mr. Edward Jacobson

Dear Stell,

Scroll down and scan this, please.

3/ At the time of my termination I was working, as part of a team of legal assistants, on a project for the client Hoechst-Celanese [under billing partner David P. Callet, Esq.], a project I had begun in early August 1991. A short time after I had begun the project, the attorney Cynthia Hogue telephoned me to state that she had reviewed the work I had completed to date and found it to be of high quality. The document I had been working on was a transcript of testimony regarding the biological effects of formaldehyde. This was the first time in my approximately three and one-half years employment with the firm that an attorney had gone out of her way to communicate personally her satisfaction with my work--work that was later termed of substandard quality at my termination. Unlike the other legal assistants assigned to the Hoechst project, who hand wrote their work product, I entered my work product directly onto the firm's computer system. In late August 1991 my supervisor advised me that she was designing a computer program that would facilitate the entry of data onto the computer: a computer program that would allow me, in my supervisor's words, to "scroll down and scan" the data. She expressly stated that I would be the "guinea pig" to test the newly-designed computer program. (Since I was the only legal assistant entering data directly onto the computer, it was unlikely that any of the other legal assistants would choose to use the program.) One wonders why my supervisor, on her own initiative, would go to the effort of designing a special computer program, which, for all practical purposes was for my use only, if she did not believe I was central to the project and that my work was not of superior quality.

2 comments:

Gary Freedman said...

See also discussion at footnote 3 of the following document:
http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2010/03/social-security-document-submission_04.html
3/ At the time of my termination I was working on a project for the client, Hoechst-Celanese, a project I had begun in early August 1991. A short time after I had begun the project, the attorney Cynthia Hogue telephoned me to state that she had reviewed the work I had completed to date and found it to be of high quality. The document I had been working on was a transcript of testimony regarding the biological effects of formaldehyde. This was the first time in my approximately three and one-half years employment with the firm that an attorney had gone out of her way to communicate personally her satisfaction with my work--work that was later termed of substandard quality at my termination. In the early afternoon of Tuesday October 29, 1991, after being advised of my termination--indeed, after Dennis Race had personally overseen the sorting of my personal effects and told me not to bother even submitting to the firm my billable hours (about 2.75 hours) for that morning--my supervisor requested that I complete the task I had been working on that morning. I refused my supervisor’s request, with the polite reminder that “I don’t work here anymore.” For a supervisor to request that a terminated employee remain to complete his work is peculiar, especially where the actions of a senior manager carried the implied yet unequivocal direction that the employee leave the premise without delay (which was itself peculiar in view of the fact that I had not been terminated for gross misconduct). But for a supervisor to request that a terminated employee remain to complete his work where the termination was in part based on the allegation that the employee’s work was seriously flawed is more than peculiar--it is incomprehensible. My supervisor’s request that I remain to complete my work after my termination raises a serious question as to whether the supervisor in fact had a good faith belief that my work was seriously flawed as alleged.

Gary Freedman said...

Note that my supervisor Chris Robertson (together with Personnel Administrator Laurel Digweed) was present at the termination meeting in Dennis Race's office on October 29, 1991 but remained silent in the face of Dennis Race's allegation that my work was of poor quality.

It was immediately after the meeting that Robertson asked me to remain at the firm to complete the work I was doing earlier that morning.