Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Hogan & Hartson Mobbing Complaint: Defensive Response by Coworker -- Part II

I worked as an agency-supplied temporary employee in the Computer Applications Department (CAD) at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson from mid-September 1985 to late February 1988.  In about January 1987 there arose a rumor in the department that I was in love with a male coworker, Craig W. Dye, and that I was trying to woo him. The innuendo grew in intensity beginning in mid-February 1987 after the department supervisor, Sheryl Ferguson, announced her resignation (on February 12, 1987). Sheryl Ferguson was a strict and effective manager; employees curtailed their acting out while she supervised the department. After her departure, the department's data base administrator Espe Rebollar assumed a supervisory role over employees. Espe Rebollar was a less than exemplary employee and an ineffective supervisor.  Further, the employees worked in a suite in an office building on I Street, across the street from the firm's main site at 815 Connecticut Avenue. The employees were isolated and lacked effective supervision. An additional factor that spurred the innuendo about me was the envy I aroused in January 1987 when I announced to several employees that I had earned $1,000 in compensation by working doubletime in late December 1986.  In about January 1987 James Hourihan,Esq., the billing partner for the client Chrysler, directed Sheryl Ferguson to transfer me from Milwaukee Public Schools litigation to work on Chrysler. Thus, an additional factor that aroused jealousy in the Department was that time and again I was chosen to work on special assignments by senior attorneys in the firm.

In May 1987 Miriam Chilton was hired by the firm to manage the CAD. She had no supervisory experience. The innuendo and mobbing behaviors directed at me continued even upon Miriam Chilton's hiring.

I wrote the following memo to Miriam Chilton in exasperation about the mobbing behavior directed at me in the CAD.

The following document is psychologically revealing.  Arguably, the memo contains symbolic references to the Biblical Joseph who aroused the jealousy of his older brothers because Joseph was favored by the father, the Patriarch Jacob.  Jacob had given Joseph a "coat of many colors."  Thus, perhaps, the references to my purchase of clothing and to a "coloring book" may be oblique references to sibling jealousy vis-a-vis an envied brother.

TO: Miriam T. Chilton

FROM: Gary Freedman

RE: Requested Change in Workspace

DATE: July 20, 1987

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me twice on Friday and giving serious consideration to my request for a change in workspace. After thinking about what you said I've decided that, if it meets with your approval, I would like to remain where I am. It is clear to me now that no matter what I do—or its opposite—only one inference will be drawn.   Since in my opinion we are dealing with irrationally-based conclusions, facts and reason hold no sway. For example, significance is attached to the fact that I started jogging last month. The fact is that I have been working out regularly since April of 1986 (there is an exercise room in my apartment building, which I used religiously [Miriam T. Chilton is an observant Reform Jew] before I began jogging—note that Craig [Dye] started at the firm in October of 1986). If memory serves correctly, I chatted with Sheryl on the morning of Saturday June 29th 1986 about my exercising on a rowing machine and sporadic jogging. (She can verify this—it was the morning she honked at me from her car as I was about to cross Connecticut Avenue on the way to work—she may remember). My jogging was only the next step in a long range exercise plan. (These details raise another issue—my memory. A great deal is made of the fact that I notice and recall a great deal about Craig. The fact is that I notice and recall a great deal about everything. Although it has not been verified by a professional, there is strong evidence that I am dyslexic. I school I had to train myself from an early age to listen intently and recall everything teachers said simply because reading was so difficult. Interestingly, recent research indicates that dyslexia is sometimes associated with what is termed “social skills deficit,” which explains a great deal also).

I've concluded that my colleagues simply have poor memories and highly selective perceptions. I'll just have to live with my celebrity status and continue providing entertainment for inquiring minds who need to know.

The attached check is submitted simply to corroborate a statement I made a few weeks back regarding an inheritance I received earlier in the year.

A word of explanation. 

In 1980 my sister and I became intestate heirs of an estate that included an item of personal property. My sister and brother-in-law had possession and use of the item until early this year. In late January/early February (?) my sister informed me that her husband had found a buyer who was willing to pay $600 for the item. She also informed me that she would share the proceeds equally upon sale of the item. It was just after receiving this news that I began to purchase, on credit, items of clothing in early February. (Although it was not until late March that I received the check, I mentioned the inheritance to Matthew [Allender] sometime in February. Also, I jokingly said to Daniel [Cutler] and Cindy [Rodda], in response to comments about my clothes, that I had just inherited “$30 million”--if memory serves correctly, that would have been on the morning of Monday February 16--another reason why people can't stand me!).

Unfortunately, I began to purchase clothes just before James Hourihan directed Sheryl to transfer me from MPS to Chrysler, which brought me into closer contact with an employee with whom I had had little contact previously [i.e., Craig Dye].

You may wish to note another coincidence. It was also in mid-February that Sheryl announced to the group that she was leaving the firm. As you noted yourself in our conversation on Friday, the absence of a supervisor (or simply a “lame duck” supervisor) can lead to serious personnel difficulties.

In fairness to all concerned I have to admit that were the situation reversed I might draw some of the same conclusions (although I don't think I would make a circus of it). Part of the reason for the inference is, as one coder once said, “You attract so much attention simply because you are an enigma,” and of course I give people little cause or opportunity to like me. I am like a page from a coloring book—blank and waiting to be filled in. Perhaps the people I associate with cannot be faulted for coloring the page in bizarre and hideous hues.

I've decided to take Jeannette [Gringo]'s advice and just “chill out.”

Thank you once again for your patience.

The following is my interpretation (based on paranoid inference) of Craig W. Dye's defensive response to my memo.  I believe that Craig felt humiliated or shamed by the memo: a memo that seemed to imply that Craig had an irrational preoccupation with me.  About ten days after I wrote the above memo, Craig Dye (with the apparent connivance of data base administrator Espe Rebollar) came up with a memo of his own.  He carefully scrutinized the work I had done under color of his position as a quality control (QC) employee and wrote a memo that detailed all the mistakes I had made.  What was curious about the memo was that it clearly only referred to mistakes that I had made and not to any mistakes by other employees; in fact, it is my recollection that I was the only employee who was assigned to coding documents at that point in time!! Keep in mind that at that time I had been assigned the task of coding 1,000 documents per week; I worked 60 hours per week during most of the summer of 1987 to get the job done.

I interpreted the memo as a tacit admission by Craig that he had felt humiliated, that his masculinity had been attacked -- and that he, in turn, tried to master feelings of shame by making me the object of shame and humiliation.  Note that it was in the same time frame (end of July 1987) that Craig wrote a memo to the department supervisor Miriam T. Chilton advising that he was planning to take a five-day vacation during the week of August 10, 1987.  The memo Craig wrote was full of sexual innuendo; it referred to Craig picking up "Wahine" at the beach.  So piqued was Miriam Chilton by the memo that she chastised Craig for his lack of professionalism and directed him to re-write the memo using appropriate business-like language.  It was as if Craig needed to boast -- I AM A HETEROSEXUAL.  See footnote 4 of the blog post titled: Surveillance by Akin Gump: How It Might Have Begun. Apparently, my memo to Miriam Chilton dated July 20, 1987 struck a nasty chord in Craig. At that particular time Craig had broken up with his girlfriend Amanda, and was not dating anyone. I assume that this contributed to Craig's feeling of heterosexual vulnerability.  By the way, if people are wondering why I kicked Craig's desk in late July 1987, Craig's memo is the reason. 

In any event here is the first page of the two-page memo that Craig wrote (it includes an 8-page addendum!):


July 30, 1987

TO:        CODERS



In loading the tapes of recently coded documents Espe has discovered that a number of errors are occurring repeatedly.  This would indicate that they are getting through at the QC level as well.  In the hope that this problem, can be rectified we have listed below the most common errors.  Please take the time to review them.

*  All documents must have an author even if it is only UNKNOWN ##.

*  All authors, addresses, copyees and mentioned names need affiliations.

*  Created document types are not allowed without the explicit consent of David Kikel and clearance from Espe.

*  Created titles or estimated titles are never allowed.

*  In cases when more than one document occupies the same

[second page of memo omitted]

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

It was at lunch on Friday August 7, 1987 (the farewell lunch for Brett Rome) that Craig Dye joked about the masculinity of members of the Princeton football team with Tom MacIsaac.

It seems that masculinity concerns were bubbling up in Craig at that time.