Will you get a fair and compliant processing of your complaint?

September 24 2021
Updated; April 28 2022, May 15 2022

My San Francisco Story - Harris Hudson.

I am a senior IT software developer/analyst approaching retirement. I am a very private person and I generally don't participate in public forums or social media. In January 2019 I commenced working as a 1053 IS Business Analyst - Senior probationary employee at the Port of San Francisco, CA USA (as a City and County of San Francisco employee). When I commenced at the Port, I was really enthusiastic about the possibility of improving the Port business systems and the possibility of working with the City's excellent spatial datasets. Below, I am going to include some redacted files for some correspondence I received from my former employer and I want to emphasise that I received this correspondence post my employment and in the context of a private citizen. I hope what I outline here might give you some insight if you find yourself in a similar situation or predicament.

In late July 2019, whilst employed at the Port of San Francisco, I was assigned a set of perpetual work tasks by my supervisor that I allege were discriminatory against a protected EEO category. This caused me a significant amount of distress. A few weeks later, on August 12 2019, I hand delivered a printed and signed formal EEO complaint of this alleged discrimination to the Port HR director, addressed to; Department of Human Resources EEO Division One South Van Ness, 4th Floor San Francisco CA 94103. This letter outlined the details of this alleged discrimination along with a printout of the work tasks that my supervisor assigned to me in July. Remember 2019? 2019 was the time before COVID.

About 4 weeks later, on September 10 2019, I was released from my probation and my employment at the Port of San Francisco, and City and County of San Francisco, was terminated.

The first contact I had by a HR EEO Investigator to acknowledge receipt of my complaint was on January 13 2020 in a letter I received by email and a few days later by US Mail (see below) - some 154 days after I filed my complaint in August 2019. According to this website of the City and County of San Francisco (https://sfdhr.org/equal-employment-opportunity), "An EEO Investigator will contact you within 48 hours to acknowledge receipt of your complaint.". I believe I should have been contacted within 48 hours by an EEO Investigator after lodging my complaint in August 2019. By not contacting me for 154 days after lodging my complaint yet publicly stating on their website that I would be contacted within 48 hours of filing a complaint made me question whether the processing of my complaint was fair and compliant. The City and County of San Francisco also addressed this initial correspondence to harris.hudson@sfport.com as part of this reply even though I had been released from probationary employment in September 2019 and not been employed there for approximately 4 months. Just a few days before I received this initial letter, I had lodged a formal complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleging that my termination from the Port of San Francisco (and City and County of San Francisco) was the result of discriminatory retaliation. A few weeks later on February 3 2020, I attended an intake interview with the City and County of San Francisco in respect to my original complaint - even though at this stage I had not been a city employee for more than 4 months and I felt no obligation whatsoever to attend such an interview but none-the-less I attended.

Update April 28 2022

I am inserting a small update to this story as the policies shown on the City and County of San Francisco HR EEO webpage that I reference above (https://sfdhr.org/equal-employment-opportunity) appear to be changing over time and have changed since I first went live with this story back in September 2021. Here is a link (https://web.archive.org/web/20210702201529/https://sfdhr.org/equal-employment-opportunity) to the Internet Archive screen capture as of July 2 2021 (which is the closest screen capture to September 2021 I could find). You will be able to notice that it mentions that an EEO Investigator will contact the complainant in '48 hours'. The policy on that particular web page appears to have possibly changed, and changed multiple times, over time since then.

On November 11 2020 I received a letter (see below - dated October 9 2020) by US Mail from the HR Director EEO, and Leave Programs of the City and County of San Francisco. This letter appears to possibly indicate that the processing of my original complaint by the City and County of San Francisco may not have been fair or compliant. On March 4 2021 my original complaint was closed by the City and County of San Francisco. In the letter I received from the City and County of San Francisco in closing my complaint there was no reference into any possible audit as indicated in the letter I received on November 11 2020 nor was there any reference as to whether the processing of my complaint was indeed fair or compliant despite my former employer sending me this prior.

On February 6 2021 the DFEH emailed me stating that my DFEH complaint was to be closed within 15 days if I did not provide further evidence, or information, in support of my claim and cited some rebuttal to my allegations by the Port of San Francisco. I allege that some of the statements that the Port of San Francisco had provided the DFEH in relation to my termination were not true - and I attempted to obtain evidence to support my DFEH case. In order to provide evidence to DFEH in support of my claim, I contacted the City and County of San Francisco regarding release of some emails that I sent whilst employed at the Port of San Francisco. The City and County of San Francisco advised me to contact the Port of San Francisco directly in relation to release of records on the contact details on this web page; https://sfport.com/public-records-and-records-retention. On Feb 9 2021 I emailed portrecords@sfport.com with an "Immediate Disclosure Request" (both in the subject and body of the email) so I could obtain evidence in the form of emails I sent whilst employed with the intention to provide this to the DFEH. The Port of San Francisco did not reply to my "Immediate Disclosure Request" within 2 days, nor a further 14 days. I believe this may be contrary to the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance as published on the Port of San Francisco's website (https://sfport.com/public-records-and-records-retention). According to this website, I believe I should have been contacted the next business day. The Port of San Fransisco did later contact me on March 6 2021 and stated that the reason for not contacting me was "Your initial request of February 9, 2021 was blocked by the sender policy framework record for your domain." (see below). However, this is not true - my domain indeed does, and did, have correct sender policy framework mail configuration. By stating on their website that they will respond to an "Immediate Disclosure Request" by the next business day, yet not responding to my "Immediate Disclosure Request" for more than 14 calendar days made me question, again, whether I was receiving a fair and compliant processing of my lodged complaint by actions of my former employer (Port of San Francisco). I was unable to send this evidence in support of my claim to the DFEH within the 15 day timeframe they allocated. On March 8 2021, I emailed the DFEH with evidence in support that my email server does indeed have correct Sender Policy Framework (SPF) settings configured. The technical information I provided to the DFEH to demonstrate that my domain does indeed have a valid Sender Policy Framework (SPF) configured was; my server IP address, mail SPF settings, an extract of my sendmail log showing that my email sent on Feb 9 2021 was accepted, and links to public DNS services that can verify the correct SPF configuration for my domain harrishudson.com which my email originated. I also stated to the DFEH that I was willing to have my servers independently audited to verify that they have the correct Sender Policy Framework settings of my domain. The emails sent to me by the Port of San Francisco on March 6 2021 supposedly in relation to my "Immediate Disclosure Request" and provided a set of emails with email attachments. I believe this was not a valid response by the Port of San Francisco as it was not provided in the 14 days of my request (which was a particular crucial time in the processing of my DFEH complaint). Notwithstanding this - I forwarded the content of these emails to the DFEH as possible evidence to support my complaint on May 10 2021. The DFEH closed my complaint on May 24 2021 citing lack of evidence. As far as I can tell, the DFEH appeared to assess the files that I forwarded on May 10 2021 as-is and did not appear to take into any consideration as to whether the Port of San Francisco acted in a fair and compliant way by not responding to my "Immediate Disclosure Request" within 14 days as per what I understand of being allocated by the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance and as per stated on the website of my former employer, or that the response itself (and contents) I received on March 6 from the Port of San Francisco, and forwared to the DFEH, was even valid.

Update May 15 2022

I am inserting another small update to this story as on September 13 2021 - I decided to formally lodge a Sunshine Ordinance complaint with the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF) in relation to not receiving my public records request. This complaint (21139) went before the SOTF - Education, Outreach and Training Committee on November 9 2021, and then later before the full task force on May 4 2022. In these meetings, both myself and the respondent were able to provide any supporting evidence and to also verbally state our respective sides to what transpired.

On May 6 2022, I received the following information via email regarding this complaint findings from the full task force;

"Dear Parties: The following was the determination of the Sunshine Task Force of matter no. 21139 at the May 4, 2022 hearing.

Moved by Member Padmanabhan, seconded by Member Neighbors to find that the Port of San Francisco and Randy Quezada violated Administrative Code, Sunshine Ordinance Section 67.25 by failing to provide the requested records in a timely and/or complete manner."

When closing my original complaint, the City and County of San Francisco did not advise whether the processing of my complaint was fair and compliant despite writing to me on November 11 2020 to advise that my complaint was possibly under audit or review. When closing my complaint May 24 2021, the DFEH made no reference, or advise, whether the processing of my complaint and subsequent actions by both the City and County of San Francisco and the Port of San Francisco was both fair and compliant despite me advising that my former employer did not release my public records request to me within the stated 14 day period and me providing evidence contrary to the reason stated by the Port of San Francisco (ie, my SPF domain configuration).

As such, I have really found myself questioning the processing of my complaints as to whether I received a fair and compliant process due to actions taken by my former employer. Like I mentioned, I am a private individual and I do not really participate in public or social media forums. I hope that my experience may give you some insight if you find yourself in a similar situation. I am sorry but I am not in any position to provide you assistance if you do find yourself in a similar situation as me.

I want to explicitly state that the alleged discrimination that are contained above here have not been proved to either a civil or criminal standard at the time of writing. I hope, however, that my experience may give you some insight if you find yourself in a similar situation. Where you may find yourself asking; Will I receive a fair and compliant processing should I file a complaint? In whatever context that may be.

Harris.