Sunday, January 29, 2012

REASON I: Why Smart People Lie

In a prior posting, BS – GOV’T HAS A KNACK FOR THAT,  I explained in detail how the card game Bullshit is played. Challengers are forewarned when playing The Government Bullshit Edition (2008) that bullshitting overall should never be confused with stupidity, although one should not be too quick to discount that as a possibility. Generally speaking however, you are more likely to find government to have rather intelligent players but who on occasion will defend really bad decisions, taking up positions that defy any sane or reasonable logic.


Why would someone so prominent and respected in the community lie and chance a character assassination? Although the answer may seem obvious, a closer look would provide insight on how to stop harassment / mobbing.
People lie for many reasons: Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, once said, “We will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure” so it is understandable one would lie for fear of being confronted by a superior, or, because we want to be seen as better than we actually are to our peers and employer. When situations arise beyond one’s control that might make them look incompetent, or fear that some obstacle may stop them from realizing their objective, it is understandable that a 'Take No Prisoner' mentality-type (like my Supervisor Desrochers), would follow their anger into some pretty stupid places.

Remember this? What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Answer:  Lipstick.


As you read the following, keep that image in mind: Desrochers (then Supervisor with provincial government's training program, Organization Staff and Development "OSD") actually is a hockey mom, and as Sarah Palin depicted tongue-in-cheek is 'of that kind'. 

On any Monday that Desrochers' son lost a weekend hockey tournament, everyone in her department knew to stay clear.  At the cottage (in the same small bay where I also had a cottage), Desrochers’ reputation as an aggressive snowmobiler determined to keep up with the guys, on the most powerful of sleds, was legendary--said that “she drives like a man." And just like many-a-man has learnt (or died learning), a tree doesn’t move for you no matter how fast you are going -- and that’s her fun side. Desrochers, as a senior OSD manager and supervisor, was equally as driven at work and would never let anything or anyone get in her way.

The OSD department was like the poor cousin to the powerful Manitoba Civil Service Commission "CSC" and Desrochers did not like being left behind in the dust: she wanted to be up front where all the power was. In my first year at OSD, Desrochers openly shared with me stories of where all the skeletons were buried: there was a lot of history and conflict between the two departments.
  • When  a senior position would become available within OSD, CSC dangled the promotion to Desrochers but in true Charlie Brown 'mean girl' fashion, the football gets snapped away at the last second resulting in anger and humiliation for Desrochers.
  • When OSD needed something--like filling one of its many vacant positions in order to meet the demands of the workload--CSC (whose mandate is to hire staff) failed to do so, despite knowing the department was "in crisis" (a direct quote from senior management in its departmental Minutes).
  • When OSD needed information updated on the CSC website -- it was like a big favour-- akin to grovelling due to the fact CSC failed to fill vacation staff positions (Communications position: vacant fall of 2007 to summer 2008).
  • When Desrochers needed parking spots for her staff, and CSC was not giving any to her department, Desrochers applied directly to the Parking Authority who regulates the number of government subsidized parking spots allocated to each department. Recognized as s a separate department, OSD was given its own parking spots: Imagine the rage Desrochers felt when CSC then surreptitiously took OSD's newly-acquired parking spots for its own (CSC) staff's use. 
Going into 2008, the situation at OSD had already grown to toxic proportions due to two extended-vacant positions and a newly created admin position left unfilled: the person quit after a couple of weeks. As captured in the November 2007 OSD Minutes, "the department was in crisis with no one to give the work to:" To make matters worse,  the only other OSD Clerk was away regularly starting January 2008, leading to an extended sick leave for nine weeks. At a senior management meeting this position vacancy was brought up as a critical issue, but ignored: CSC preferring to talk about planning a new project that would (and did) add more stress to the department and me, then, the only  remaining admin person (a lowly-paid clerk) without increase in pay, job security, or control of duties.


Government's private lawyer, Rob Olson, (of the firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman) suppressed a key witness (Desrochers)  altogether from investigations at the Consumer's Bureau and Labour Board, and then for two years more from the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.  It wasn't until March 2010 that my supervisor Desrochers was interviewed. By this point the Consumers Bureau (according to its annual report), made no investigation and Manitoba Labour Board had already denied me of the right to an investigation or hearing.

March 2010: The Human Rights Commission investigator finally interviews Desrochers (MHRC was first contacted in June 2008). Due to overwhelming evidence of a past connection, Desrochers reluctantly admitted that disability was known and that at the time of the extended stress leave, she had told her supervisor (Chief Operating Officer Anna Beauchamp Schmidt) it was known to her"that medical history went back 15 years prior to employment at OSD."

Desrochers knew about my medical history as a result of an ongoing friendship, spanning twenty years, between our spouses; as part of the hiring committee, she would have known that at some point, accommodation could likely be a factor when they hired me in April 2007, and she would also have known that the overall stress of her department (in total flux with position vacancies) was well beyond the reasonable expectation of a clerk position, even for someone without a mood disorder.

Lawyer, Robert Olson personally testified, on government's behalf,  that disability was not known by any government employee at any time.  Normally, a lawyer cannot fabricate a defence and then sign for its client, but when the client is government, the response is: he committed perjury--so what?

Going into 2008, OSD had a skeleton staff of ONE admin person (me) for four senior managers (brokers) churning out a huge new program, in addition to the regular OSD workshops (i.e., How to Manage Stress, Accommodation for Disabilities, etc.). The workload had increased unceremoniously--already stressed due to the three vacant positions--without any plan whatsoever as to how the projects would all be delivered.

Knowing accommodation was needed, and that it was the right action to take is one thing, being able to act on it and still meet the objective of delivering on all the work, was quite another. When someone is pouring a drink and we feel it is enough, we generally are allowed to say "when" we have had enough. Desrochers was not given a voice to "say when" when she realized she had more than enough to deal with due to the limited resources in staff and lack of support from CSC.  It is then not surprising that once I said "when" "When" WHEN!!!  -- that quite frankly Desrochers had had it at that point. The end result was a 'shaken clerk syndrome'  similar to shaken baby but more so in a mentally abusive kind of way.

Notes taken by RWP Investigator Ginette Grimard (accessed by me in 2011--but not given any weight in tribunal investigations) reflected that my supervisor had a bias against people with disabilities, believing that they take too many sick days. This is a false belief based on stereotypes. Reports show that people with disabilities often take less sick days than co-workers without disabilities. Under a reasonable and respectful workplace environment, I likely would not have required stress leave based on my record of a perfect work attendance prior to this time.

Further information accessed (under FIPPA 2011) showed evidence that at the time I had taken extended sick leave, Desrochers ultimately did do the right thing by telling her supervisor (the "COO" Chief Operating Officer of OSD) that she knew of my history of mental illness, and suspected that the noted change in behaviour was likely as a result of that disability: Solid evidence that Government authorities (and its lawyers) lied under oath testifying that none of its employees had any prior knowledge whatsoever of a disability.

See related postings:
  • RWP Complaint submitted April 30, 2008 - took 5 months only to then come across by COO Beauchamp in a baffling Clinton-like jargon to detract from the very real fact that the line had been crossed by a Supervisor.
  • RWP 2 July 15 2008 - COO took 23 business days (48 hours is the law) for an employment reference, provided uncorroborated comments negatively impacting chances for employment as provided by employment agency's report; then lied to the Labour Board.  RWP(2) deals with remaining issues previously held back on.
  • Is MB Government #Winning - Instead of dealing with a situation in accordance with its own stated policies on accommodating employees with disabilities, Government opted to dodge the bullet and hired Rob Olson, of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman to come down with brute force on a vulnerable unrepresented employee.
  • MHRC took 2 years to start its investigation then ends up being dismissed in the Yukon over the August long weekend in Electronic signatures, rubber stamping - "Good Grief"

Due to Employment Equity A FEW GOOD MEN*
has been pre-empted by MEAN GIRLS
already in progress...

Supervisor: You want answers?

Commissioner: I want the truth!

Supervisor: You can't handle the truth! I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You leave positions vacant and you curse at me for having trouble delivering more and more of your workshops without giving me any staff. You have that authority to just say ‘do it!”. You have the luxury of not knowing how it is I’m actually able to get the job done and you now question about my harassing Marielle?

While tragic as it is, it probably saved your ass. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, in fact saves many asses...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about like at the Legislature and meetings with the Minister, you want me there getting rid of these mental cases that ask for accommodation. You need me to put up that wall.

We use words like employment equity, respectful workplace, and Human Rights Code... OSD uses these words as the backbone to a life spent making money off that 'feel-good BS'. You use 'em as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a woman who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very cushy job it provides her, then questions the manner in which I had to manage those duties in order to get the job done! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

Commissioner: Did you go against the Human Rights Code as read?

Supervisor:       (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.

Commissioner:  Did you go against the Code as read?

Supervisor:        YOU'RE GODDAM RIGHT I DID!!

Commissioner: Well, all right then. Just so I know. RELEASE DA KRAKEN!! --uh, I mean get Olson crackin' on getting rid of the complaint ...


*  "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!"  Best Ever Movie Quotes:  A Few Good Men

This is not a paid endorsement... but Kudos out to Scott Berkun for sharing his brilliant essay papers  Why Smart People Defend Bad Ideas online (excerpt): thing I did learn after years of studying advanced logic theory is that proficiency in argument can easily be used to overpower others, even when you are dead wrong. If you learn a few tricks of logic and debate, you can refute the obvious, and defend the ridiculous.


When we share information freely, everybody gains knowledge.

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