Monday, July 8, 2024

From Excellence to Exile: How Oro Valley Water Czar Abused and Forced Out a Dedicated 18-Year Employee

If this is even close to being true, then it's disgusting
The following is an email that was forwarded to us. It shows the alleged harsh treatment given long time Oro Valley Water Department employee by water czar Peter Abraham, and his staff.
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18 year employee Maryann Jacob notes how effective she and the staff was under former Water Director Philip Saletta
"My name is Maryann Jacob. I have been an Oro Valley Water employee for the past 18 years. The first 15 years of my employment were under the leadership of Director Philip Saletta and Administrator Shirley (Seng) Kiel. During that time, I received continuous reviews of excellence and multiple recognitions for superior work and dedication to the department. The atmosphere of the water department in those years was friendly and highly productive, with little to no turnover. All staff, office or field, were treated with respect and felt welcome in the positive work environment. Even the Town Manager, at that time, sent a memo saying how valuable it was to have so many long-term, experienced town employees.

Staff treated poorly under Abraham and his team
Sadly, that all changed, January 2020 when the water department leadership was taken over by Director Peter Abraham, Administrator Mary Rallis, and field Administrator David Allred. Immediately there was a different atmosphere. Instead of being "Valuable Assets" to the town, we were branded "Legacy Employees" not "fit" or "beneficial" to the Town of Oro Valley. No more daily greetings to staff from administrators, office staff were ignored, publicly criticized, harassed or threatened with termination if policy or procedures were questioned. Next, field staff and customer service staff were told they could not talk to each other, and field staff could not come into the office. Anyone in violation of this policy received an immediate phone or e-mail reprimand. Next, customer service staff were instructed not to talk to each other. Any violation received the same treatment of reprimand.

Bullied and demoted
Employees with decades of "experience" chose not to accept this treatment and quit or were fired. Those of us who stayed, hoping to "reach full retirement" were "bullied" or "demoted" to lesser responsibilities.

Passed over in favor of new staff
New staff, with only 1- or 2-months experience was given preferential treatment and participated in training for new software systems, while experienced staff were criticized for not knowing the new software even though we weren't given the opportunity to have the training. If there is any doubt about these turnover conditions, I suggest a review by the town auditors of the turnover rate for the 4 years 2021-2024 compared to the 4 years 2016-2019. I excluded 2020 due to Covid-19.

Badgered by Abraham... "When are you going to quit?”
Finally, after 2 years of constant badgering by the administrator "so when are you quitting?" and "are you going to retire soon?" I have been coerced into resigning my position at Oro Valley Water Utility; at great cost to me emotionally and financially. I had always wanted to reach my "20-year mark", but the treatment by the current administrators has made that impossible. 

Human resource department tell her to: "Deal with it” 
Going to Human Resources was no help. All HR ever told anyone who complained or who filed a Hostile Work Environment complaint was, "Deal with it".

Calls for action
I hope you rectify this situation for the benefit of the department, the town, and the customers you serve.” 
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