City supervisors are considering structural changes to the Department of Human Resources after one of its managers was accused of forging documents and lying to a Black employee who filed a discrimination complaint.
The allegations against a former DHR Equal Opportunity Office manager spurred supervisors Shamann Walton and Aaron Peskin to call for a hearing Tuesday that would explore recommendations for “restructuring and reforming” the office.
“This in many ways is more scandalous than what we learned about terrible but relatively petty corruption that was committed by Mohammed Nuru and some other senior officials in our government,” Peskin said. “But this really goes to the core of fair employment practices and discrimination and I am profoundly and deeply troubled by this.”
The manager, Rebecca Sherman, resigned earlier this month after admitting to forging an unauthorized settlement agreement with a city worker, who then dismissed a pending lawsuit against The City, according to DHR Director Micki Callahan.
Callahan revealed the allegations in an email Friday to Mayor London Breed, the Board of Supervisors and the Black Employee Alliance, a group that has long accused DHR of failing to thoroughly investigate discrimination complaints by Black city workers.
Sherman is accused of falsely telling the employee she would receive a financial settlement and promotion, deleting records to cover her tracks and forging the names of a department head and two deputy city attorneys on the settlement agreement.
“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,” Callahan wrote. “She did so despite knowing, and concealing from the employee, that the settlement was not authorized and would not be implemented.”
Sherman also allegedly forged emails and text messages “purporting to be from the departmental payroll director.”
The San Francisco Examiner could not reach Sherman for comment. The news site Mission Local first reported the email.
Callahan said the allegations are the actions of one “rogue employee” and should not represent the office as a whole.
“Ms. Sherman’s lies are unethical, unacceptable, and hurtful to the employee caught in the middle of them,” Callahan wrote. “Her actions have also shaken the trust that employees and members of the public put in their government.”
But the Black Employee Alliance blamed the situation on the leadership of EEO Director Linda Simon and Callahan, who is retiring next month.
“We believe the situation is larger that Rebecca and that she, along with other EEO Managers, HR Managers and Investigators have continuously been guided by Linda Simon and Micki Callahan to either change language of employee complaints and/or assert there are ‘no findings’ — specifically in racial discrimination cases,” the group wrote in an email to the Examiner.
Both the City Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office plan to investigate the matter, officials said.
The City Attorney’s Office has also agreed to help reinstate the lawsuit that was dismissed.
No date has been set for the hearing called by Walton and Peskin.
The hearing will compare San Francisco’s EEO to others from similar jurisdictions and analyze its investigative protocols and oversight, among other things.
The allegations are also expected to be discussed at an Oct. 15 Government Audit and Oversight Committee hearing on the broader issues facing Black employees.
In addition to calling for the hearing, Walton has asked the City Attorney’s Office to draft three pieces of legislation in response to the allegations.
That includes legislation to create an independent body that would oversee discrimination complaints filed with DHR.