The EEOC requires that the employer file an Opposition Statement. Annandale did so. It included statements that are false. Knowingly submitting a false statement would be plainly intended to mislead a federal agency’s investigation.
In opposition to the Charge that the Design Manager engaged in physical and verbal sexual harassment of the Charging Parties, Annandale relies on the sworn Declaration of a current employee (“Declarant”), who, under oath, states, “I have never felt uncomfortable working with [Design Manager]”—referring to the design manager at issue in the Charges filed with the EEOC.
She also states—under oath, referring to one former employee witness (“Former Employee”)—as follows: “I worked with [Former Employee]. [She] [n]ever told me that [the Design Manager] had touched [her] inappropriately or otherwise made [her] feel uncomfortable.”
However in a conversation between Former Employee and Declarant in July, recorded by one of the Charging Parties with the consent of Former Employee, Declarant stated just the opposite:
[Former Employee] (15:03):
… let’s be for real. You know there has been times where he’s put a hand on us and it’s made us feel uncomfortable?
Yeah. Yep. 100%
The Declarant reiterated her point in her recorded conversation with Former Employee:
Has he put his arm on us, or around us? Of course, yeah, [he] made us feel uncomfortable.
Obtaining and relying on a false sworn statement has significant implications. This firm will certainly point out to the EEOC that Annandale submitted a false statement under oath. Friedman & Houlding LLP has notified Annandale through proper channels that some material submitted to the EEOC is or may be false and trusts that Annandale will withdraw or correct it promptly.
The false statements, however, are not limited to those in the aforementioned sworn declaration. The company has taken the blatantly false position that the employee who brought an EEOC charge alleging that she was fired by Annandale a day after this firm sought to speak with a former HR representative about the employee’s complaint of sexual harassment (“Employee”), was not in fact fired but quit voluntarily, while loudly “storming” out of the office. Annandale maintains this assertion in its Opposition Statement:
[Employee] resigned her employment on June 15, 2023. On that date, [Design Manager] and Laurie Frogale, Vice President Human Resources, met with [Employee] about her abusive and disrespectful conduct towards employees. In the past, at least five to six individuals had quit because of [Employee’s] mistreatment of them. For example, see Tabs 2 and 3 for copy of declarations. [Design Manager] and Ms. Frogale did not have an opportunity to fully discuss their concerns because [Employee] started raising her voice, announced she was leaving and quitting the Company and stormed out of the office towards her office to pack her things to leave. Ms. Frogale followed [Employee] to her office where [Employee] attempted to take Company documents and also attempted to access the Company’s computer. Ms. Frogale reminded [Employee] that she could not take Company property and [Employee] continued to use profanity . . . .
During this rampage, at no time did [Employee] say anything about [Design Manager] having sexually harassed her or having acted inappropriately. Critically, the Company was not terminating [Employee] when it was meeting with her on June 15, 2023. Instead, it was attempting to counsel her as it had done in the past about her rude and disrespectful behavior in the workplace. Thus, [Employee] was never terminated. She loudly, disruptively and undeniably quit and walked out. . . .
However, a recording made by the Employee of the June 15, 2023, meeting she was called into with Laurie Frogale and Design Manager (her harasser) in the HR office—something that had never happened in the preceding five years that Employee during which Employee worked at Annandale—reveals that Laurie Frogale indeed terminated her employment, and that she neither raised her voice nor stormed out of the office. In fact, Employee understood she was being fired when she was called into the HR office to meet with Laurie Frogale and Design Manager, and thus decided to make a recording of the entire meeting. Her suspicion was confirmed when Frogale began the meeting with a litany of accusations allegedly from other co-workers that Employee was difficult to work with—something that was never brought to Employee’s attention the preceding five years that she was at the company:
Laurie Frogale (03:31):
Again, you’re- you’re not playing to- to… There’s no flexibility with you, and
what I’m hearing and what I am concerned with, extremely concerned with-
Laurie Frogale (03:46):
Is that your initial reaction is that [Design Manager] didn’t communicate with you. Hold it, let me- let me-
I- I didn’t say anything.
Laurie Frogale (03:53):
Let me put it in here.
I didn’t say anything.
Laurie Frogale (03:54):
[Design Manager] is your supervisor.
Laurie Frogale (03:57):
He’s not answering to you, you’re answering to him. And if [Design Manager] doesn’t talk to you all day long, I don’t care, okay? And when [Design Manager] tells you that this is what he wants done, this is what he wants done. Or this is how he’s gonna do it. It’s not up to you. And that’s where our roles ha- are completely reversed. Your- you are assuming the role that h- and he’s afraid to talk to you. Everyone is afraid to talk to you right now. People are afraid of you [Employee]. You’ve created an environment where people are afraid of you and don’t wanna work with you. And we’re losing people right and left because of it.
At this point in the meeting, Employee had a firm understanding that she was being fired on the pretext that she was difficult to work with—that the company was not recognizing that Design Manager was the real cause of workplace hostility despite her prior complaint to HR—and mulled the prospect of having herself removed from the equation for the company to understand that the work environment would continue to suffer with Design Manager employed there. At no point did Employee “loudly, disruptively and undeniably quit and wal[k] out”:
Okay, well then maybe [inaudible 00:04:39]. I’ll just remove myself and then you can have everybody that comes in thereafter. If the problem dissolves itself, then you know what it was. If it doesn’t, you know that what the other problem is.
Laurie Frogale (04:51):
I have some long time people over there who have issued the same complaints, that were here before you, and will be here after you-
Laurie Frogale (05:06):
And have given me the same information verbatim to what [Design Manager] is saying.
Laurie Frogale (05:13):
So, yeah, I think this is a time to part our ways.
Laurie Frogale (05:16):
Okay. Thank you. Appreciate it.
Laurie Frogale (05:20):
Thank you. [inaudible 00:05:26]
The recording supports Employee’s position that she was fired by Laurie Frogale. Further corroborating Employee’s charge that she was fired is the fact that Employee applied for and was approved for Unemployment Benefits through the Virginia Unemployment Commission, which does not extend benefits to those who voluntarily quit their employment. Annandale maintains it is aware of no wrongdoing.