Updated: 08/04/2014 9:29 AM |
Created: 08/04/2014 9:19 AM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Bernalillo County is facing new accusations of managers discriminating and retaliating against employees.
Franchesca Stevens worked as a public information officer for Bernalillo County from 2003 to 2012. Her job was to get information for the media and to represent the county during community events.
She says the first five years were great, but shortly after, her supervisor changed, and that's when Stevens says things quickly soured.
"Constant and non-ending criticism of my work every day," she said. "Anything I wrote was torn apart. I was told I wasn't good enough."
Under her old supervisor, Stevens received good performance reviews. But under the new supervisor, Tia Bland, she got contradictory reviews.
In one section, Bland writes, "not proactive as writer for web site." In the same review, she wrote, "your strength is writing."
"Every day was a battle," Stevens said. "It was a hostile work environment for me."
When Stevens complained to the county manager and HR, she was demoted and her office was moved away from the rest of the team. In fact, the county's own risk management department determined her office space to be "hazardous."
Eventually, Bland fired Stevens.
According to several other women at the county, this kind of retaliation is common. Last month, nearly 230 women began to form a class action lawsuit claiming they are victims of gender discrimination.
"There are dozens of EEOC charges alleging harassment, sex discrimination, discrimination in hiring, discrimination in pay decisions and retaliation against women who report those things," attorney Whitney Warner said.
Warner represents the other women. She says the way the county hires, promotes and fires is unfair, and the county has policies that support a culture of discrimination.
"In terms of their employment practices and how they treat women, it's one of the worst employers I think I've seen," she said.
The county denies all of the accusations. In an emailed statement regarding Steven's case, Bland wrote, "No one at Bernalillo County retaliated or discriminated against Franchesca Stevens. She was terminated for poor job performance."
Stevens has won numerous awards for her writing. In fact, she wrote for the Albuquerque Journal for ten years.
She says the way she was treated by her supervisor caused her to have severe depression and anxiety.