San Francisco Releases Independent Review of City Workplace Policies and Procedures

 
07/20/2021

[ Article was originally posted on https://sfmayor.org ]

Report by Professor William B. Gould IV will inform the City’s reforms of equal employment opportunity practices to better prevent workplace discrimination

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Human Resources Director Carol Isen today announced the release of the independent and comprehensive review by William B. Gould IV, Charles A. Beardsley Professor of Law, Emeritus, at the Stanford Law School, of the City’s equal employment opportunity policies and practices. Professor Gould’s review focuses on the City’s response to employee claims of workplace bias, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

The findings and recommendations in this report represent the first phase in the City’s effort to reform the Department of Human Resources Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Division. The goal is to restore credibility, accountability, and effectiveness to the work of the EEO Division and create a foundation upon which greater transparency and enhanced efficiency in the EEO processes can be built. The report will inform the City’s “Roadmap to Reform” of EEO policies and procedures.

“I want to thank Professor Gould for all the work he has done to conduct this extensive review,” said Mayor Breed. “It’s critical that we’re doing everything we can to protect our workers from workplace discrimination and harassment and creating a welcoming environment for all employees. With the help of Professor Gould’s findings, we’ll be able to restructure EEO and hiring systems to best serve our city workers.”

Throughout the independent review process, Professor Gould held dozens of meetings with Human Resource professionals, EEO investigators, union leaders, and employee affinity groups and researched industry best practices. His report identified 19 findings regarding EEO policies and procedures and offered 57 recommendations to support EEO Division reforms.

“It has been an honor to serve San Francisco in the process of its first big city “reckoning” undertaken in the wake of 2020’s upheavals and its re-dedication to the principles of equal employment opportunity,” said Professor Gould. “My hope is that my recommendations will provide a basis for positive steps forward in the near future.”

Key findings of the review include:

  • EEO Complaint & Investigation process needs improvement.
  • Arbitration and Civil Service Commission reforms are needed; including the appointment of diverse arbitrators or hearing officers with expertise in discrimination policies.
  • New training and apprenticeship initiatives aimed at the City’s incumbent workforce are needed.
  • Broadening the diversity, transparency, and independence of hiring and promotion panels will lead to greater trust and confidence in the appointment process.

Key recommendations of the review include:

  • The City should overhaul its EEO investigation processes.
  • The City and its Unions should bargain to remove the provision in the City’s Memoranda of Understanding that requires employees to choose between filing an EEO complaint with DHR or filing a grievance based on the non-discrimination clauses of their respective collective bargaining agreements.
  • The City should allow employees to appeal EEO investigation findings to independent and diverse hearing officers who are experts in employment discrimination law and supportive of fair employment principles.
  • The City should reinvigorate efforts to create apprenticeship programs and other upskilling programs that will enable workers to join skilled trades and other sought-after jobs.
  • The City should reform its hiring and promotion procedures to reduce hiring manager discretion and ensure the independence of interview panels.

The full report can be found here.

Using information included in the review, the Department of Human Resources is developing a “Roadmap to Reform” for the EEO Division, scheduled for release this Fall. Mayor Breed has committed an additional $1.9 million in FY 2021-2022 to support the reform and revitalization of the EEO Division, including hiring more staff and creating and implementing a new database to support case management efficiency.

“I am grateful for the thoughtful approach Professor Gould has taken to develop this Report”, said Carol Isen, Human Resources Director. “With the investments Mayor Breed has made into the Equal Employment Opportunities Division, the recommendations from Professor Gould’s Report, and the appointment of new leadership over the Division, DHR is well positioned to rebuild our EEO Division and restore confidence in the processes for City employees.”

In June 2021, the City appointed Amalia Martinez to serve as the next director of the EEO Division. Prior to her appointment, Martinez served as Supervising Attorney for the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Legal Division. There, she managed the legal functions of investigating and litigating discrimination charges, violating state law under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Martinez successfully led the effort to reform IDHR by streamlining the case intake assessment and investigation process, improving the case resolution rate, and reducing case backlog by 85%. Martinez will lead the EEO’s “Roadmap to Reform” plan, focusing on:

  • Rebuilding Equal Employment Opportunity systems
  • Restoring trust
  • Demonstrating transparency
  • Enhancing the efficiency of investigations

“I look forward to reviewing the thoughtful recommendations from Professor Gould’s report,” said Amalia Martinez, Director, Equal Employment Opportunity Division. “Reforming and strengthening the City’s EEO policies and systems and restoring trust in the EEO operations is my highest priority. In the coming months we will work to release the Roadmap to Reform plan that will deliver proactive measures to build greater efficiency in our systems and support the prevention of discrimination and harassment in the workplace as well as swift and thorough investigations when necessary.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Division works to implement the City’s policies prohibiting workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation; and to investigate, evaluate, and help to resolve complaints of employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of the City’s EEO Policies.

The Department of Human Resources provides human resource services to approximately 60 city departments, with a total workforce of over 35,000 employees.

About William B. Gould IV

William B. Gould IV is Charles A. Beardsley Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Stanford Law School. A prolific scholar of labor and discrimination law, Gould has been an influential voice in worker–management relations for more than fifty years and served as Consultant to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1966-1967) where he conciliated alleged unlawful employment practices, developed proposals for the conciliation process, and provided recommendations for the resolution of discrimination claims involving seniority which became the basis for early federal court interpretations of Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He served as Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB, 1994–98) and subsequently Chairman of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (2014-2017). Professor Gould has been a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators since 1970.

As NLRB Chairman, he played a critical role in bringing the 1994–95 baseball strike to its conclusion and has arbitrated and mediated more than two hundred labor disputes, including the 1992 and 1993 salary disputes between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee. He served as Secretary, Labor and Employment Law Section, American Bar Association (1980-81) as well as Independent Monitor for FirstGroup America, addressing freedom-of-association complaints (2008–10). Gould also served as Special Advisor to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on project labor agreements (2011–12). A critically acclaimed author of ten books and more than sixty law review articles, Professor Gould is the recipient of five honorary doctorates for his significant contributions to the fields of labor law and labor relations.

SOURCE: https://sfmayor.org/article/san-francisco-releases-independent-review-city-workplace-policies-and-procedures



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