NavCom’s view of justice has nothing to do with what is right or wrong, but with the continued quest of the dollar.
Still, I waited another week to see if Frank Scalfaro would talk to Elizabeth or Skip Christ. When nothing happened and I could see that Frank’s treatment toward me had changed……. I was no longer the team player he wanted me to be and he considered me a problem for even bringing up the situation. He began not returning my phone calls for days (on regular business related issues) and would act in a manner that I could only describe as odd. I knew that Snyder was his personal friend, but I also thought that he would do something to protect his employees from being subjected to this kind of hostile environment. I began to realize that a company could have all the policies in the world and notices on bulletin boards that you don’t allow or tolerate sexual harassment. But if the support of these policies and statements does not come from senior management they are not worth the paper they are written on. It seemed that the owners of the company were just going through the motions of appearing not to tolerate this type of behavior, but in reality, if the abuser were “one of them” they would protect him. And as I thought about it, I never remembered seeing any of the owners (except, the Vice President of Engineering) ever attend any of the sexual harassment classes that were put on by the Human Resources Department.
Frank Scalfaro had been my hero. I realize that there should always be a line between an employer and his or her employees, but I believed in Frank. I believed he was a good man, he probably made a more positive impact on my life than any other man I had ever known. I believed that he felt a kindred spirit or connection with me. When I had my stroke, Elizabeth called two people, my daughter and Frank Scalfaro and they both came rushing to the hospital. Due to our past relationship, his actions were especially hurtful. I came to realize that he would or could not put his job and financial security on the line to back me up, as Skip Christ, held on to the purse strings of his life. In the world of NavCom, you do not go against Clifford C. (Skip) Christ and survive.
I was totally disillusioned by Frank’s reaction and/or total lack of any action. I realized that nothing was going to be done about Snyder. Elizabeth and I talked it over and decided that maybe she should seek legal advice. It had become a no-win situation. If she couldn’t come forward to the company, out of total fear of Snyder’s reaction and his threats, and if either of us were ever called upon as a witness by Donna Mojahedi, she and I would both be blamed for not coming forward sooner. So, I had to make a decision, I could not protect both the company and Elizabeth and I chose to follow the instructions of what I had been trained, as a management level employee to do no matter what the consequences.
I still believed that once Skip Christ knew all the facts, he would come to the same conclusion that I had. He would punish the abuser and realize that Snyder was a real problem. This was not happening. We discussed it and decided that since neither of us were attorneys, she should seek the advice of one. I could no longer “sit on the fence” trying to both protect the company and protect my employee. It wasn’t going to work, as the company was not responding.
Seeing an attorney was only done to protect us from immediate retaliation. I had witnessed retaliation against a former employee named Ronald Gottesman. Mr. Gottesman was a senior engineer on the IFF Program (Snyder’s program) and had reported that the company was not following the proper product testing requirements per the government specifications. He was out of the building and out of a job within 72 hours.
The NavCom and Skip Christ accusation that I was after money and thus, an extortionist, is ridiculous. I had witnessed in past years what happened to employees who sued the company. Names that come to mind are Mike Franco and Joe Vandenburg. These two men went through hell and back. Suing NavCom (if you knew NavCom like I did) would never be a self-enriching plan of action.
My biggest mistake was believing in the people that I worked for. Even though the history of the company had been to “shoot the messenger” on some occasions (mostly business issues, in which an employee had questioned their ethics or their dealings with the government as a defense contractor), I still believed that I had the credibility, with my peers and with senior management, I thought that if I came forward, I would be not only backed up, but something would be done to correct the situation. I was wrong. My naiveté was my downfall. I really didn’t understand, that profit is the only driver at NavCom. If Bill Snyder was bringing money and contracts into the company, he would be protected at all costs. It was either that or he knew too much about additional other questionable business practices. Protecting him might have been their only choice, so that he wouldn’t turn on them. I believed in Clifford C. (Skip) Christ. I believed that he would be as outraged at Snyder’s behavior as I was. I certainly mis-judged the situation.
The scary part is that NavCom is relatively a small company, but Skip Christ can have far reaching consequences due to his lack of corporate responsibility. Mr. Christ sits on the board of directors of a much larger company. He sits on the board of a company in Vienna, VA. called Allied Research Corporation. In this position, he is part of an entity that makes decisions that cover thousands of employees. With his mindset and attitude, he has the ability to affect decisions that will impact the lives of many.
Elizabeth selected an attorney and met with him on February 14, 1996. The attorney sent a FAX to NavCom on February 21, 1996 stating that he represented Elizabeth and wanted to communicate with the company regarding an employment issue.
On the afternoon of February 21, 1996, I was called to Frank Scalfaro’s office. After he “beat around the bush” on other topics he asked “remember the day that you came to me about the Snyder and Elizabeth situation…… did you expect me to do anything official with the information?” I felt that he was covering his rear. I told him that since I didn’t know what to do, I came to him and expected him to help me with the problem. Since he was now in charge of H/R I expected him to resolve the issue by going to Skip Christ with the problem and to start an independent investigation. Mr. Scalfaro told me that he had to report back to Skip on our conversation and that he would get back to me. I expressed our fear of Snyder and Frank told me that he would tell Snyder to stay away from us and for our safety, we should leave for the day. Frank Scalfaro called me at home that night and said that Skip was going to take over the investigation and make all the decisions. He said that Skip Christ would talk to me in the next day or so. Elizabeth was too upset to go to work the next day and when she returned on Friday, her desk had been ransacked.
On Friday, February 23, 1996, at 12:15 p.m., Marlene Waller, Skip Christ’s Secretary called me and said that he wanted to see me in the Boardroom. In the Boardroom were Skip and Ken Youmans (company external legal counsel from Seyfarth. This was before the law firm of McKenna, Long and Aldridge (formerly McKenna and Cuneo) came on the scene in this situation). They said that they wanted to know what I knew about the situation between Mr. Snyder and Elizabeth. I asked, “what kind of a meeting is this, do I need an attorney?” Ken Youmans stated that he was the company attorney and since I worked for the company, he was there for me. I asked that my boss, Frank Scalfaro be present and I was told by Mr. Christ that he was unavailable. Mr. Christ stated that this was an information gathering meeting, so that the company could do an investigation. I then stated that I was very concerned as Elizabeth’s desk had been ransacked and that we were both scared of Snyder, as we knew that he had a key to our area, and since he has an owner’s key to the front door, he does not have to check in and out with the guards during or after work hours. They told me to report this to the Security Department and they would do an investigation. The only reason that I could think of as to why our office area was ransacked was if Mr. Snyder was trying to find the handkerchiefs that he had used to masturbate into.
Ken Youmans and Mr. Christ asked me to tell them what I knew about Snyder. I said that I had known him for ten years…… where did they want me to start? They said at the beginning. I said that in my opinion, Bill Snyder was an astute businessman with questionable ethics, and a social buffoon. I stated that he had always done and said inappropriate things, but in the last year he seemed to go over the edge. They asked for examples of then and now. I told them that in the past years, Mr. Snyder was a bully and that employees just tried to stay out of his way……. because the rumors were that he had been reported many times to the Human Resources Department and to Mr. Christ for his behavior, and nothing was ever done to stop his actions. I had heard that Margaret Huebner, the VP of HR had personally gone to Mr. Christ over the years to complain and to share what employees had shared with her and that nothing was ever done to stop him or even discipline him for his behavior.
I understand that four or five years ago, an employee named Ken Wagner, during his exit interview, had shared with Margaret Huebner that management should do something about Bill Snyder, as he was out of control and sexually harassing women and that he (Wagner) was concerned. I understand that Margaret Huebner went to Mr. Christ and reported Snyder’s alleged behavior and that nothing was ever done to stop him. Margaret did everything she could to stop Snyder’s behavior. But, if she reported to the only decision maker and he refused to act, her hands were tied.
Christ and Ken Youmans asked me for personal examples of his behavior and this is what I shared……..…….. A few years ago as I was going down the carpeted stairs, from the Contracts Department area to the area near the Lobby, and Mr. Snyder was coming up the stairs and he dropped to the floor on his knees to look up my dress. I told him “that is a good way to lose your teeth if I kick you in the face” and he just laughed. He was always making inappropriate comments and telling filthy jokes. I stayed away from him as much as I could. He had a “power mentality.” One time I was in the office of Vicki Bertrand (now Vicki Wagner, who has left the company and lives in Oregon) and I heard a loud bump against the wall. Vicki got up and ran to Snyder’s office. When she got back, I asked “What was that all about?” and she stated that when Bill wanted her attention or wanted to see her, he would not call her on the phone, but he would bounce a rubber ball against the wall and she was to run to find out what he wanted. I found this degrading, so I never had anything more to do with him other than when I had to.
That was the past. I stated that lately he had really gone out of control. I gave examples of what I had seen regarding Elizabeth and what she had told me regarding his behavior… and of what I had witnessed. In 1995 (I don’t know the exact date, as I never thought that I would be in this position and asked to relay this information)…… I was leaving my office area as Mr. Snyder was coming through the door. As I turned around to tell Elizabeth where I was going, Mr. Snyder grabbed me and started humping my back and then laughed. I told him to knock it off, and that was harassment and he should be reported. He laughed and said go ahead, but if you are smart, you don’t report it, you grade it…… meaning a,b,c,d, etc. I was embarrassed and flustered, so I just got out of his way. Also in 1995, I was coming back from the ladies room through the back door to our office area. He couldn’t see me coming, as we had partitions lining the area until I was upon Elizabeth’s filing area. He was leaning over her (his front to her back), she was red in the face and I saw her pushing him away from her. He looked up and saw me and laughed and said “I was just trying to drive your buddy into next week”…… He had unzipped his pants and had pulled his shirttail through the fly in his pants, to make it look like a penis. He zipped his pants and laughed like a hyena….. I told him that he wasn’t funny and to leave her alone (Elizabeth) and to get out of here…… the phone rang and it was Marlene Waller, transferring a call to him. He took the call and yelled into the phone, “No, God Damn it, don’t bother me with such shit!” He slammed the phone down and said…… “I thought the call was something important, it was only my wife”…… and then he left our office area. Elizabeth was very upset, shaking and distraught. She asked me “how can this company employ such a man?” My only response was “I don’t know”, he has been doing this for years and Skip has been told about him and never does anything. I don’t know what to do…… as reporting him doesn’t do any good…… just try and keep away from him. The people that have reported him in the past, aren’t here anymore, some quit and some were laid off…… and again I was afraid of what he would do to our careers, if I reported him (this was in 1995).
Back to the meeting. Skip Christ and Ken Youmans then asked me how Elizabeth fit into the picture. I stated that we worked for him on special company projects and he decided he wanted to come into the 20th Century in regard to computers. He bought a computer system and Frank Scalfaro had asked Elizabeth to help him set it up. Elizabeth installed his software and showed him how to use the computer. He wanted to get on America-On-Line and she showed him. He wanted to visit the Chat Groups and she showed him how. He would come into our department and tell jokes and talk about his adventures on-line. He wanted to know how to send and receive pictures on-line. He wanted her to send him some “Hot Pics” and as a joke she sent him the picture of the fully clothed ladies. Snyder called Elizabeth and told her “You don’t know who the fuck you are dealing with and I will get you, that is not the kind of picture I wanted.” Elizabeth was stunned, scared and shocked at his behavior….. and that is when I told her to try to ignore him because you “you don’t get on the bad side of Snyder, in this company and survive”. This pattern of harassment has been going on for many years, and management refuses to do anything to stop him. At this time, I was dealing with my health issues and since nothing was ever done to stop him, I didn’t know what to do.
Ken Youmans asked me what I thought. I told him that I thought that Snyder should be fired, and that I was surprised that he wasn’t disciplined or any corrective action taken after the Donna Mojahedi sexual harassment incident. I told both Skip Christ and Ken Youmans, that the company sends out literature, policies and training regarding sexual harassment, but the message from senior management is not the same. Blatant harassment is allowed at NavCom. I said that it looks like the “good old boy” system was at play. That they were positioning their wagon trains around Snyder and trying to shoot the messenger. Skip Christ was not happy with my comments.
Ken Youmans asked me what I thought Elizabeth expected to accomplish in her action and I said, I don’t know….. but I assumed from what she has shared with me, that she wanted Snyder fired and no repercussions or retaliation for reporting the harassment. And I stated that I felt the company should help her with her counseling or therapy costs. Then the whole thing would be over. Elizabeth has no desire to file a lawsuit and is not after money. She just wants him stopped.
I told them that my entire career has been spent protecting the company but that they can’t expect me to go against my belief, that in this instance, the company is wrong. Skip Christ was not happy with my answer, I could see it on his face. I believe that the dye was cast that day. My career was over. No one had ever disagreed with Skip Christ and survived. Ken Youmans asked a couple of times, if I thought if there was any way this could be settled without firing Snyder, and I asked why would a company want to employ such a man? The EEOC has recently criticized company attorneys for doing exactly what I believe Mr. Youmans did in this meeting. He stated to me that this was a meeting so an investigation could be done and that he was there for me as the company attorney. This certainly was NOT the case.
It was a very difficult weekend, I fully realized how ugly this thing could become. On Monday morning (February 26, 1996), I was called to Frank Scalfaro’s office. He began by saying “I know this is difficult, but as an officer of the company (no one had ever addressed me as an officer of the company and I thought this odd,….. I have an obligation.” He didn’t say what obligation…. He mumbled about how much I knew about the company, etc. He wanted to know if I wanted to talk to Ken Youmans privately. I stated….. what good would that do? Anything I said would be reported back to Skip. I disagree with the company…. and that I got the feeling from the meeting with Skip Christ and Youmans that it was going to be “shoot” Margot Martin and Elizabeth time. I counter-offered with a proposal, which was ignored. Why not bring in someone from the outside, a true independent. Someone that was obligated to no one but the quest of the truth? To achieve true independence, I would personally pay half their salary and the company would pay the other half. Then we would have true independence. And both (the company and I) would agree to abide by their recommendations. I proposed this to Frank Scalfaro and I never heard another word about it. Whether he offered this to Skip Christ, I will never know.
I “outed” myself as a lesbian”….. telling him that total honesty was necessary. I had to make a firm stand because the company cannot have a Compliance Department that could be blackmailed….. And that was just what Snyder had tried to do.
I really don’t know what Frank Scalfaro thought about my admissions regarding my sexual orientation. It was something that had not been publicly stated at work. I have been “out” for many years to my family and friends, but not at work, due to the homophobic attitude at NavCom. Elizabeth and I had been entertained in Frank’s home and taken out to dinner, by Frank and his wife. Frank and I go back a long way and I honestly cared for him. And I honestly believed he cared for Elizabeth and I. He called us his “stars” and he planned many of the future company personnel plans around our talents. It was a very emotional and traumatic meeting. I told him I wanted to do anything to protect his personal life, but I believe the company is wrong, and even though I care deeply for him… I can’t fall on my sword for two people at the same time, when they have opposing views…. and that no matter how difficult it is…for me personally,….. that sometimes in your life you have to stand up and be counted and this appears to be the time for me. He was in a panic and wanted to know how anything in his personal life would have anything to do with this situation. I stated that as a part of Snyder’s intimidation and blackmail of Elizabeth for being a lesbian, was the mention of Frank’s relationship with Barbara and Skip’s relationship with Jennifer, and if this thing becomes public, it might become common knowledge. He was very upset and said that something must be done about Snyder. He agreed that Snyder should be fired, and this issue must be settled quickly……. I stated that Elizabeth’s actions were nothing about suing the company, nor was she after money…… she simply wanted the company to do the right thing and get rid of Snyder, so that women in the building would be safe. The meeting ended on a friendly note (he hugged me and stated that he respected me for my courage in trying to right this wrong) and Frank said that he was going to speak to Skip Christ, because something must be done about Snyder.
I can only speculate what happened when Frank talked to Skip Christ. I believe that he was told that nothing was going to happen to Snyder, and that if he was going to be on Skip’s team, he must be against Elizabeth and I.
The change in Frank Scalfaro’s behavior was astounding to me. All of the special assignments that were planned for our department disappeared. He did not return my phone calls. He never spoke to me again about anything unless he had to. The only time I saw him was when he would call a staff meeting with his four direct reporting employees. And he couldn’t leave me out of these meetings. If I saw him in the halls of the building, he would go the other direction. Even these meetings stopped and I believe that he would meet with his other staff members individually, when he had to talk to them, in order not to have to talk to me.
I realized that in a situation like this, you can be an important asset to the company, but as soon as you disagree with Skip Christ you instantly become a liability. What happened to those years of commitment and dedication? I went from a “star to a slug” within minutes.
Skip Christ called me to the Boardroom again on July 09, 1996. Frank Scalfaro was in attendance at this meeting. I was told that there was an imminent pending legal action against me by Bill Snyder for falsely accusing him of misconduct. I stated fine…… he can go ahead and sue me, and hopefully, that finally the truth will come out….. I welcome it!!!!!……. After the meeting I went to my office and wrote Mr. Christ a memo (my memo and his answer back will be attached to this journal) stating that I believe that I was acting in the scope of my employment by reporting Mr. Snyder, and that I expected the company to be responsible for any attorney fees that I would incur. This was the last time I heard anything about being sued before I was terminated. I believe that this was a veiled attempt to try to scare me and blackmail me to get me to talk Elizabeth into stopping any legal action. I am also convinced that Mr. Christ’s plan in terminating my employment was a plan to take away the majority part of our household income, to penalize me for coming forward, and to break us financially, in order to make Elizabeth give up of any possible actions.
On September 19, 1996, Christ called me to the Boardroom and terminated my employment. The company called it a layoff. I disagree. I believe that I was fired, as an act of retaliation for standing up and saying, Snyder’s behavior must stop. Prior actions and words show that I never was on a lay off list. My termination papers show that I made the statement that I was being retaliated and I also refused to sign any papers. These papers will be posted on the web site.
Prior to my report of workplace sexual harassment, I was told that I would not be included in any planned RIF’s (Lay Offs) that were planned for 1996 and 1997. As in the case of many defense contractors, downsizing has become a way of life, but due to my vast experience, I was not scheduled for layoff. Some of my responsibilities were to change, and I was scheduled to take over increased job duties, to help fill the void of planned workforce reductions in the Finance Department. I believe that I was rolled into a layoff as retaliation for reporting the harassment and for stating that if the two sexual harassment cases ever reached a courtroom, I would not testify for the company, but for the women.
I believe that documents will prove that I was not scheduled for any future reduction in workforce (RIF’s). There is department budget data and head count analysis still at NavCom (unless it has been destroyed), that can prove these statements.
Until my illness, Elizabeth and I were scheduled to attend the ComDex computer show in Las Vegas. This is the largest show in the world, where new computer hardware and software is presented. Our reservations had been made and paid for by the company. No other company employees were being sent, and our boss wished us to attend so we could advise him and help him meet his computer related projects and activities in the future. This computer show was in November 1995. Due to my unexpected illness, the reservations had to be cancelled. I asked them if he wanted to send anyone else in our place and he stated no…..we were the only ones that had the abilities to implement his plans for the future. So I ask this question. If you were planning to lay off an employee in 1996, why would you spend the time and money to send them to an activity that would only bare fruit in future years?
After my termination, Mr. Christ moved Elizabeth into the MIS (computer) Department, which put her in a position, to constantly run into Mr. Snyder, during her regular workday activities. Then Mr. Ken Russo (VP and in charge of MIS), with Mr. Christ’s concurrence, wanted to move her into the Purchasing Department, which would have put her in direct contact with Mr. Snyder and within close proximity to his office. At this point, her therapist put her on a medical stress leave in October 1996. NavCom may terminate an employee after a year of medical leave. Her employment was terminated in October 1997.
In summary, I believe the following information will help bring what I believe are the salient points into focus:
· NavCom supports and fosters an abusive, intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment. This pattern and practice has existed for many years, and has gone unchecked by management. Management has been aware of the situation and has taken no action.
· NavCom’s internal dispute resolution does not work. The company retaliated against me for doing my job under the Title VII provisions of the Civil Rights Act. After reporting the harassment, the ensuring internal investigation was biased. A report regarding any investigation was not provided to me nor was any information or data forthcoming regarding any resolution, final determinations or discipline of Mr. Snyder. The internal dispute resolution process did not work for Donna Mojahedi or for Elizabeth.
· The alleged perpetrator, still has his job and has never been disciplined, While the two victims (Donna Mojahedi and Elizabeth) were on leaves and under the care of therapists. I was fired for reporting this injustice.
· NavCom’s policies and training regarding sexual harassment are a joke. Top Management says all the right words, provides training and publishes procedures, but support of these policies does not come from top management. They say one thing and do another…… especially if the alleged perpetrator is a member of the senior management team and has an ownership interest in the company. An example of their two-faced approach to management. After Donna Mojahedi went out on a leave, he was telling her through the H/R Department that the company would find another place for her to work in the building. To others, Skip Christ was saying that he never wanted to see her in the building again!
I believe that NavCom acted with malice and retaliated against me and did irreparable damage to my career. NavCom took away my livelihood, my disability, health and life insurance and my future retirement credits for doing what I believe is protected conduct under the Title VII provisions of the Civil Rights Act and California Labor Law provisions.
I believe that NavCom Defense Electronics, has a pattern and practice of workplace discrimination, if you report someone that they want to protect. I believe that Mr. Christ considers Bill Snyder a “rainmaker”. The contract awards that they are currently chasing are in Snyder’s program arena.
I plan to take this action as far as is allowed under existing laws and regulations, up to and including public disclosure, if necessary. I believe that the condoned behavior goes beyond what any reasonable person would find acceptable in the workplace.
NavCom Defense Electronics is a defense contractor. I firmly believe that a business that condones such outrageous behavior should not be receiving contracts from the U.S. Government. NavCom is currently pursuing a large contract for IFF Test Sets with the Redstone Arsenal Army Base. Since the Army has received such negative publicity regarding their recent issues in dealing with sexual harassment, this complaint could save them further embarrassment, as they could be criticized, if they should award a contract to a company that condones such behavior.
Past The Basics – The Legal Process
Update – December 01, 1997 – written by Margot Martin
I will try to recap what has happened since most of the material was written.
I do not know the current status of the Donna Mojahedi case. She was scheduled to go to trial on December 03, 1997 and since I have not received a summons to appear as a witness, either the trial has been moved out or she has settled with NavCom. Attorneys in the respective cases have advised that the separate parties should not discuss their individual cases with one another, as the company would probably accuse us of collusion or conspiracy.
Status of Elizabeth’s case
She is scheduled to go to trial on February 23, 1998. They are still in the deposition and discovery process. I can share what I know, but I’m not present during her depositions nor do I read her deposition hard copy. It would be inappropriate, since I will be a future witness and my deposition in her case is yet competed. Her attorney has never talked to me about her case, as I will be a witness. I respect and admire his conduct.
Of course is a very difficult situation as we live together and are a couple. There are certain things that she can share with me regarding the process, for example, her feelings regarding the process and how she mentally and physically is holding up during the process and her perception of the egregious acts by NavCom.
If I weren’t living this nightmare, I wouldn’t believe it. What has gone on makes the recent Marv Albert story read like Peter Pan.
NavCom has had her in the deposition mode(and a camera on her) for 20 days and over 120 hours. This is unheard of. They have taken her therapy records, put their “spin” on the situation, and have driven her over the edge. The “boys from NavCom play very very dirty”……………………
Bill Snyder, the perpetrator (VP of NavCom and part owner of the company), is the one that sent her his semen soaked handkerchiefs. (The DNA testing has proven that it is his semen. Court ordered technicians took his blood sample). This is what sent her into therapy in the beginning. When an individual goes to a therapist, the therapist takes a personal history. During this process, Elizabeth shared that she had been an incest victim, as a child. NavCom subpoenaed her records and tried to use the tragedy of her childhood against her.
They subpoenaed her childhood abuser, they expected that since abusers usually never admit their crimes, they were counting on that the abuser would say that she was a liar, slut and a nut, then NavCom would bring this person into court to testify against her. This backfired on them, as the abuser admitted to his incestuous behavior. This was even a surprise to Elizabeth, as she has not had any contact with her abuser for many years. I’m not giving this person any kudos, as it is very difficult to forgive the unforgivable, but at least he told l the truth. Since he was not serving their purpose to try to destroy her, as soon as he admitted his behavior, they stopped the deposition and sent him home.
There is another twist to this situation, before her abuser was called to testify, Bill Snyder would approach her during breaks in her depositions (there is no law or rule that prohibits this) and threatened her. Snyder told her the attorneys were going to make her relive her prior sexual abuse, from her childhood abuser and her ex-husband and that they would be deposed and subpoenaed and possibly required to testify. He wanted her to lie and “tank her case, Donna Mojahedi’s case and my case”, which she refused to do. She is and was physically afraid of him, during these meetings she was so upset and afraid that she doesn’t remember the majority of the conversations other than his threatening demeanor, thinking that if she didn’t upset him, he would not hurt her. I did not know this was happening, as I had told her not to tell me anything or show me anything regarding her case, which would compromise my ability to honestly testify under oath.
I was not a happy camper with these developments as she should have never talked with him, as I believe that it was just another form of abuse and harassment by Bill Snyder. To understand how this could have happened, one would have to understand Elizabeth’s personality. She cannot withstand confrontation and the things that NavCom was pulling on her had scared her and pushed her over the brink. She did not want to relive the tragedy of her childhood and wanted to find anyway to make the madness stop. Even though his behavior of talking to witnesses is not illegal, it shows his personality, need to control and power mentality . Since her depositions, dragged on and on, he would see her in the halls and at first make menacing gestures, like moving his finger across his throat to simulate the cutting of her throat. When this didn’t work, he would catch her at the drinking fountain during breaks, and state “we are going to call your childhood abuser and make you relive your childhood…… Skip is going to do anything to ruin you.” “You better find a way to get out of this or you will be sorry, very sorry”.
I believe that she had a breakdown (and so does her therapist). Her memory of the conversations is so vague, that her therapist believes that she had what is called a dissociative event. From what I understand and from what I’ve researched on the Internet, this can happen commonly when a person is put into such a stressful situation, that they couldn’t remember many of the events. But she does have records from her paging service that shows Snyder left over 20 messages on her answering machine.
To make a long, long story short, he illegally taped some of these conversations and now they are trying to use whatever she said against her. The recordings are a very bad quality and of course during her depositions, they play only the part that they think benefits their case. Her attorney (David Greenberg) has filed another suit against NavCom and Bill Snyder for the illegal taping and is having the tapes analyzed by a tape expert. When the tapes are played in sequence and in their entirety, the information obtained should help her show that this was just another form of harassment. If NavCom or Bill Snyder have altered the tapes in any way, they will have a charge against them for tampering with evidence. So, as you can see, this is not a run of the mill case. I have not read the transcripts of the tapes, but Elizabeth has and she believes that in some of the parts of the meetings that she can remember, are not in the transcripts. According to Elizabeth, the tapes are very choppy and appear to be altered.
Then during their taking of my deposition, they played pieces of the tapes. What I heard didn’t make any sense to me, the tapes were a bad quality, the voice didn’t sound like Elizabeth, and they appeared to be chopped and spliced. I believe that if the tapes were played in their entirety and in sequence, they would project a completely different story, other than the one NavCom is trying to tell.
Status of my case
I have a suit filed for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Mr. Snyder harassed all of us, but at least I was not the recipient of his bodily fluids.
Now, before I go into any explanation, I want to emphasize how this all happened and as you read the following information you will see that this was never about money!!!!. When I reported the harassment, all I wanted was for the company to do was fire Mr. Snyder and not retaliate against me, Donna or Elizabeth for reporting Mr. Snyder’s behavior, and nobody was going to sue anyone. If the company had done the right thing, it would not have cost them a dime………………….After I was fired, all I wanted was a fair severance package for my 22 years of service. After I was denied a fair severance package, I hired an attorney.
This story is in a chronological order. We are now up to summer/fall 1997. As of tomorrow, I will not have an attorney. My attorney, Mark Allen Kleiman of Santa Monica, wants out of the case for many reasons that I will try to explain. This is why I have decided that maybe the best way is just to expose NavCom for what they are and let the court of public opinion decide the issue……… I cannot afford to pursue my case unless I can get Legal Defense Organization or Civil Rights Organization to handle my litigation. NavCom is paying $300.00 an hour to each attorney (and there are many) to fight these cases. Mr. Kleiman wants to get rid of my case for what I believe are two reasons……. (1) I hired him with a down payment and the rest would be a contingency, payable to him upon any recovery. NavCom with their very expensive attorneys have put a burden upon him that will take an unbelievable amount of his time…….. to appear for depositions, appear in court, and answer their enormous requests for information and to answer all their motions in court. He started to distance himself from this case when the other side expected him to pay one-half of a Discovery Judge’s fee for the Judge to sit in on and make immediate calls and decision on the spot. The retired Judge’s fee is $350.00 an hour and his presence would be necessary for many days.
Mr. Kleiman cannot spend the majority of his work hours working on a case in which there is no guarantee of any recovery. The only thing that works in the world for justice is $$$$’s and since I cannot pay an hourly fee for his efforts, I have become a liability………….(2) During my deposition in Elizabeth’s case (I’m scheduled for more depositions this month) I was asked for my Driver’s License number, which I thought was odd…..but after thinking about it, I realized that they probably wanted to do a DMV check on me to see if I had anything that they could use against me, which didn’t concern me. Anyway back to the issue, this started me thinking…… if public records are available to them, they are available to me. I knew that Mr. Snyder was going through a divorce and thought about where he would have his divorce papers filed. I had always heard that he was abusive toward his wife, so I thought that maybe I could find some information from these public records. This type or kind of information should have been found by my attorney, but attorneys that are on a contingency basis don’t do a lot of legwork, as they try to keep their expenses at a minimum. I knew that Mr. Snyder lived in the Glendora/La Verne area, so I tried the Pomona Courthouse records first.
His records were filed in Pomona and I had the records copied. Well,…….. It contained statements made by his wife, that he was not only an abuser at work, he has beaten her, threaten to kill her, she required hospital care and he was arrested for spousal abuse……. plus many more incidents of his abuse toward his wife were stated in these papers. I was so incensed by this information and could not believe that at the same time the abuse was taking place at work, that he was doing to same thing at home…………….. and he was denying that he was an abuser!!!!!….. and he had convinced the company to protect him.
I believed that Elizabeth was having a breakdown, due to all things that NavCom was putting her through during her depositions, I believed that she was self-destructive, and I was mad as hell, that this man could get away with all this……………… destroy our lives for reporting him, etc. So after an especially grueling day for her, she came home distraught and in the most upset condition that I have ever witnessed.
She went to bed with a sedative and I went into my G.I. Jane mode. I had had enough. If Mr. Christ, the President of the company was not going to protect the women in the building, I decided to do it for him……….. I faxed copies to FAX machines at the company, six pages of Snyder’s divorce papers outlining the abuse. My attorney was not very happy with my behavior, which I agree is probably true, but I would do it again………. the many years of abuse towards women by Snyder must be stopped…… and Mr. Christ is protecting him after years of being told that Mr. Snyder is a danger. I have no excuse for my behavior in sending the faxes, but I believe that sometimes public exposure is the only way to right a wrong. I believe in programs like Megan’s Law, which makes the names of convicted child abusers open to the public. (3) Mark Allen Kleiman was still willing to be my attorney, but I would have to pay him an hourly fee, which would have been prohibitive due to all the motions and legal hopscotch being played by NavCom’s seven attorneys. (3) Mr. Kleiman was involved in the case of his career and didn’t have the time to put up with the NavCom paperwork, unless he was paid for every hour, and even then it would have been a crunch. Mark Allen Kleiman was named in 1998 as one of the finalists for Trail Lawyer of the Year by the group Trial Lawyers for Public Justice for the case that he was working on at the same time as mine. My case for retaliation and wrongful termination was a solid case, but I could not afford to continue for long. I ended up representing myself for a month or two but the financial cost and the toll to my health was not worth it, so I gave up on the courts. I believe that I would have been successful in my case for wrongful termination, but since financial resources is the only factor that determines who gets to bring the bell for justice, I was forced to give up my fight.
Corporate attorneys (NavCom’s) can use litigation as a bludgeon to bully the individual. Many times, the merits of the fight are of no concern, it is the depth of financial resources that is the most important factor in determining which party prevails. Law firms file suits and defend companies like NavCom more to generate legal fees for their firm than to redress any perceived wrongdoing.
Abusers usually have a past, as in the Marv Albert case, the woman who courageously came forward would never have been found, except for the media attention. During this stressful time, I had just read the book by Gavin de Becker, titled: The Gift of Fear. This book gives an insightful view into the world of abusers and advocates public exposure as sometimes the only effective tool to deal with these individuals. I realize that my actions may have hurt my individual case, as my actions make me look like more of an activist or zealot than a victim, BUT stopping this type of corporate abuse and cover-up is certainly more important, than my own personal situation.
I believe that there is more to the protection of Snyder than any of us know. Since during Snyder’s threats to Elizabeth, he kept saying that if “he went down, the company will go down” as he knew too much about their activities………… in another case, where Mr. Christ’s alleged mistress (Jennifer Stephens) was harassed (mildly harassed by being sent love notes by a company engineer….. nothing like Snyder’s harassment), Mr. Christ had the company hire armed guards to protect her 24 hours a day…………. so there is more here than we know of………… at this point………..
Before my departure from NavCom, Mr. Christ stated in July 1996 that Mr. Snyder was going to sue me for falsely accusing him, etc. At that time, I told them “go ahead and let him sue me and the truth will come out” but I also told Mr. Christ that I expected that the company would be responsible to pay my legal bills, as I was acting in the scope of my employment by reporting the harassment. I didn’t hear anymore about being sued until after I was terminated. After I was terminated, I would no longer be a NavCom employee and would have to pay all my own attorney fees. I believe that this was Skip Christ’s plan.
Well, NavCom and Mr. Snyder sued me on November 12, 1997 for “Solicitation of Commission of Crimes with Intent to cause Injury”……. whatever the hell that means. Then, the El Monte police show up at my door, but I was not home, they were looking for both of us. Elizabeth talked to them and referred them to her attorney. Her attorney has contacted them. Since my attorney is bowing out, I’m on my own. To date, I haven’t seen the charges…………… but since they have a burden of proof and there is none……………. I’m not overly concerned. I think desperate people are beginning to do desperate things …….. If they are claiming extortion (as abusers historically do, have you seen the Marv Albert interviews?, same charges), they will have the impossible task proving it, as I stated previously, I have never asked for any money (except trying to collect my rightful severance package, which I was denied)………. I do not believe that it is extortion to sue someone for his or her wrongful acts?
Out of the mouths of abusers seem to say the same comments and I quote:
” I thought she was my friend”
“She wanted it and asked me to do it”
“This is extortion”
“I’m being victimized”
“But she was the one…..who did the suggesting”
” I was set up”, etc. etc. etc.
I have a difficult time understanding a system that penalizes the victims. I lost a 22 year career. At my age securing comparable employment is difficult, if not impossible. Companies try not to discriminate because of age, but in reality, they do. Why would a company hire someone at my age, when they know that I don’t have 10-20 years to give to their company? Plus, I have nine-inch scars on both sides of my neck, due to my illness in 1995, so it is quite obvious, that I have had prior health issues. NavCom dealt another blow to my career opportunities by refusing to give a reference. Twenty-two years of faithful service gone down the drain.
I put in faith in a system that failed me. I acted as I was trained to act, as a management level employee, and it appears that I will unfairly pay the price for standing up for a principle that I believe that I was required to confront.
Due to my termination, I can to longer afford to live in my home. I will lose it to foreclosure. I’ve spent my savings. I lost my health benefits, disability and life insurance benefits and credits to my retirement account. Bankruptcy will be my only recourse.
I believe when men of power take the fraternity house mentality of their youth, into the Boardrooms of corporate America, individuals will be impacted and society will suffer in their attempt to mature into a just and fair world for all citizens.
Update – August 28, 1998
Elizabeth’s trial has been delayed again. The next status conference is in January 1999. this case probably will not get to court until 1999 or the year 2000. The reason appears to be that the Judge is waiting (both sides agreed to have a trial by Judge as the estimated time of a jury trial was estimated to be over 20 days) and that would mean that it would be moved to another courtroom in LA called Commonwealth. Elizabeth believed that agreeing to let the Judge hear the case would not cause any further delays, but it appears that that decision didn’t help keep the trial on track.
The Judge is waiting until another case is heard in the Appeals Court. After being illegally taped, she sued and a different Judge ruled …..that under the circumstances she should have known she was being taped (?). Her attorney appealed this decision, and now she has to wait until this is heard. California Penal Code states that recording without permission is a crime, unless it is to catch someone for extortion. This is where things get interesting. The defendants in the lawsuit never mentioned extortion until they were caught taping. It appears that their claims of extortion were voiced to cover up their own illegal acts.
On that note, As I previously stated, Elizabeth and I were reported to the El Monte Police for extortion. The police completed an eight to nine month investigation. They reviewed over thousands of documents, tapes, videos and interviewed current and former company employees. In May 1998, the District Attorney issued an internal report that denied the complaint against either Elizabeth or myself. They must have seen that the filing of the complaint was just another form of corporate abuse.
In fact, dealing with the police was not a horrible experience, as one might expect. I have criticized the court system, for allowing companies with unlimited financial resources, to cloud and clog the system, but not the police. I had never in my life been accused of any crime, or even seen the inside of a police station. The El Monte Police Department was courteous and fair. I could tell from the beginning that they were not taking any sides. They were doing an independent investigation. This attitude was refreshing (not like depositions, where the side taking the deposition, is totally biased), the El Monte Police Department was professional, unbiased and were only after the facts. I guess, the point is, if you are not guilty of a crime and you personally know it, there is nothing to fear. A police department and a District Attorney have to have facts that would back up charges against an individual, they certainly didn’t feel that the facts substantiated the charges by NavCom.
Status of NavCom’s case against me. This is case # BC 181093 filed in Downtown LA Superior Court. I firmly believe that this case was filed against me as a ploy to intimidate me. There is no case. This case is scheduled to follow Elizabeth’s case with the same Judge (Case transferred from Judge Kuhl to Judge Crispo). I believe that once Elizabeth’s case is heard, this case will go away. They are just trying to beat a dead horse. Since my termination, I have lost everything, even if they would win, their are no assets left to seize.
They had me for two days and Elizabeth for one day this month on the case against me. It was nothing but a fishing expedition. I believe that they were trying to find some more information on the case. The delay in the case just happened this week, so at the time of the depositions the case was still scheduled to start September 12th.
The Dalia case has again been delayed. This time it could be delayed for over a year. Judge Crispo will not hear the Dalia case until the Appeals Court rules upon the case filed by Elizabeth for what she believes was illegal taping. As I understand the situation, another Judge previously ruled against her that “she should have known she was being taped” and her attorney (David Greenberg) appealed this decision. The Judge believes that until the final decision comes down regarding the tapes, her case cannot be heard.
Status of the case against me
I haven’t heard anything in the last few weeks. I’m assuming since the cases are considered “related” and will be heard by the same Judge, this case is also delayed.
I, again will be without legal representation. Since I believe that the case against me is bogus and the case only filed to keep me quiet and to intimidate me, I was fortunate to get a pro-bono attorney to represent me to file an Anti-SLAPP motion. (A SLAPP suit is one filed for other motives and I believed in violation of my First Amendment Rights.) The Judge did not accept the motion. Shannon Kelly of the law firm of Hancock, Rothert & Bunshoft, Los Angeles represented me for this motion, but her representation ended with the fight for the Anti-SLAPP motion. I was very impressed with Ms. Kelley, but I cannot personally afford to retain her services for the future. I am equally impressed with her law firm. As much as I think company attorneys are generally billable hour whores, I also believe that law firms that donate many hours per year to represent clients on a pro-bono basis, should be applauded for their service and commitment to the quest for justice.