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Bombshell: SF HR director claims ‘rogue employee’ forged settlement with Black worker

Joe Eskenazi

Sep 19, 2020

Mayor London Breed and every member of the Board of Supervisors were among dozens of city leaders to receive a shocking Friday afternoon email from longtime Department of Human Resources director Micki Callahan.

In it, she accused one of her underlings of forging a settlement agreement with a Black San Francisco employee who had brought a discrimination complaint — even allegedly forging the names of a city department head and two deputy city attorneys on the bogus document.

The subject line of Callahan’s email was “Corruption at DHR …” — a statement so blunt and disorienting from that department’s director that veteran government hands wondered if Callahan’s email had been hacked.

It had not.

Within the email, Callahan stated that a former DHR employee named Rebecca Sherman had, earlier this month, resigned unexpectedly from her position as an Equal Employment Opportunity manager. Callahan claimed her former subordinate had “admitted in writing that she had forged documents and lied to a city employee about that employee’s EEO case.”

Callahan went on to make a startling series of accusations against Sherman, all of which are jarring enough that we will list them in full:

Sherman lied to the employee and told her that her closed case had been reopened and reinvestigated, and that she would be receiving a financial settlement and a promotion as a result.
Sherman deleted records from reports printed from the EEO Division’s database to ensure that there was no record of the case in the EEO reports reviewed by DHR and the employee’s department head.
Sherman forged an unauthorized settlement agreement and forged a department head’s and two Deputy City Attorneys’ names on the document.
Sherman provided the forged agreement to the employee, assuring the employee that the settlement had been approved and that a financial settlement and promotion were pending. She did so despite knowing, and concealing from the employee, that the settlement was not authorized and would not be implemented.
Sherman forged email and text messages to the employee, purporting to be from the departmental payroll director, that stated the financial settlement was soon to be paid.
On the basis of Sherman’s assurances, the employee dismissed a pending lawsuit related to her EEO complaint. The City Attorney’s Office has informed the employee that it will stipulate to her withdrawing the dismissal, and file the necessary papers with the court to restore that lawsuit.
Sherman misrepresented the status of at least one other case as well, both to the complainant and to DHR EEO and DHR leadership.
Mission Local has been unable to reach Sherman for comment. Her Linkedin page, which until recently listed her as an EEO Programs Manager for the city and county, has been deleted.

Callahan’s email makes public allegations that Mission Local had heard privately a week prior. Her letter responds to one written on Sept. 17 by the city’s Black Employee Alliance and Coalition Against Anti-Blackness.

That letter claims that “multiple employees” who had filed discrimination complaints “were manipulated, aggrieved, assaulted and defrauded by DHR-EEO” and provided with “fraudulent” settlement agreements.

The Black Employee Alliance letter claimed that the EEO office is biased against African American employees and “is dysfunctional and is in need of new leadership.” It called for the dismissal and investigation of Callahan — who is preparing to retire in the not-too-distant future — as well as Linda Simon, the director of the EEO office.

“How is it possible both Linda Simon, Director of EEO and Micki Callahan, Director of the Department of Human Resource [sic] were unaware of the elaborate scheme devised by their employees?” posited the letter from the Black Employee Alliance.

“How many more employees have been harmed; and are being harmed currently through the DHR-EEO process?”

Callahan’s response placed the blame on the singular actions of a “rogue employee.”

She wrote that all of Sherman’s cases will be audited and that the office will review its “standard operating procedures” to prevent “any recurrence of this type of egregious misconduct.”

It remains to be seen if this will satisfy the city’s Black employees.

“There is documentation proving Micki Callahan and Linda Simon were aware of complaints involving similar matters about the DHR-EEO process, and did not respond to those complaints or correct the situation,” reads the email from the Black Employee Alliance.

“There has been and remains a lack of leadership, oversight, integrity, and ethics at DHR and the EEO Complaint Process.”

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