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Lottery investigation finds no evidence of civil rights allegations

by Chuck Baumann | Jul 25, 2016

July 25, 2016 - Salem, Ore. One of Barry Pack’s first actions as acting Lottery director was to oversee an investigation of management issues at the Lottery, including concerns expressed in a draft civil rights complaint written, but not filed, by former director Jack Roberts. The investigation found no evidence to support Roberts’ allegations.

Roberts’ draft complaint alleged that actions by a Lottery commissioner, and the opposition of two commissioners to Roberts’ appointment of a senior executive to the agency’s chief sales and retailer services post, were discriminatory. Roberts expressed concern that the commissioners’ actions were based on the employee’s national origin and led to a hostile work environment for that executive.

Commissioners Liz Carle and Mary Wheat, named in the complaint drafted by Roberts, have vigorously denied discriminating against any Lottery employees.

Over the past 10 weeks, an outside personnel investigator, supervised by the Department of Justice, conducted a thorough investigation of the allegations. The investigation included multiple interviews with staff members and commissioners, as well as a review of documents and emails.

“This investigation affirms the integrity of Commissioners Carle and Wheat, and the absence of any discriminatory intent and actions against the Lottery executive on whose behalf Roberts expressed concern,” said Acting Lottery Director Pack. ”I consider this matter to be fully resolved.”

A review of other management issues at the Lottery is ongoing.

Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned over $11 billion for economic development, public education, state parks and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit www.oregonlottery.org

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The following is a summary of the investigation conducted by outside counsel:

FACTUAL SUMMARY:

Investigation by Kyle Abraham, Oregon State Lottery (July 2016)

This memorandum documents a factual summary resulting from the investigation by Kyle Abraham of Barran Liebman LIT into allegations that Oregon Lottery Commissioners Liz Carle ("Carle") and Mary Wheat ("Wheat") created a hostile work environment for Oregon Lottery employee Farshad Alla​hdadi ("Allahdadi"). The allegations are included in the undated letter from former Oregon Lottery Director Jack Roberts ("Roberts") ("Roberts' Letter").

FACTUAL FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS

Based on interviews, review of documents, and analysis of the evidence, Kyle Abraham found the following facts:

1. On Monday, February 29, 2016, Roberts sent an email to all Lottery employees, in which Roberts informed employees of his decision to re-assign Stacy Shaw from the Assistant Director for Sales, Marketing and Retail Services to the position of Program Gambling Consultant. In the same email, Roberts announced Allahdadi would serve as the interim Assistant Director for Sales and Retail Services. Notably, Roberts also communicated his decision to re-organize the duties of this Assistant Director position by removing Marketing and Research from the group.

2. On Monday, February 29, 2016, the Commissioners received an anonymous email questioning Roberts' decision to appoint Allahdadi to the Assistant Director position. This email did not provide detailed concerns.

3. On Friday, March 4, 2016, the Commissioners received an email from Alisa Zavala with Allahdadi's resume.

4. On Thursday, March 10, 2016, the Commissioners received a second anonymous email. This email provided more detail about concerns and "red flags" related to the appointment of Alla​hdadi to the Assistant Director position. The concerns listed included Allahdadi's involvement with a vendor (Microsoft) without following proper contracting and procurement rules and procedures. This email also listed seven specific employees as sources of information related to the "red flags."

5. On Sunday, March 13, 2016, Wheat sent Roberts an email that said, "I also want you to know that I will be voting no on Farshad's confirmation. I based that decision on existing concerns that I have had for a while, key staff concerns and a conflict of interest in regards to retail contracts."

6. On Monday, March 14, 2016, at 10:00am Roberts met in person with Commissioner Valdivia and Carle. The meeting was held in person at the Oregon Lottery office. Roberts discussed each allegation in the anonymous email with Valdivia and Carle. Carle felt Roberts "explained away" the allegations. At the conclusion of the meeting, Carle expressed an intention to contact the employees listed, by name, in the second anonymous email. Initially, Roberts objected, but subsequently Roberts concurred with Carle contacting the employees listed in the email.

7. Between March 15 and March 30, 2016, Carle reported that she contacted between twelve to thirteen Lottery employees. Carle's case file, related to her calls with Lottery employees, does not include the working notes she took during her interviews, as she discarded these notes to maintain confidentiality promised to the employees. Carle's file does not include any outline of questions to Lottery employees."

8. Wheat did not participate in any interview of any Lottery employee with or as part of Carle's efforts.

9. Carle prepared written questions for Roberts, and Carle requested and received feedback from Chair Saathoff on those questions. On Wednesday March 16, 2016, Chair Saathoff provided feedback to Carle regarding Carle's proposed written questions to Roberts.

10. On Wednesday March 23, 2016, Wheat asked Carle "How did your calls go?" via text message.

11. On Thursday, March 31, 2016, Carle called Roberts to discuss her conclusions based on the conversations she had with Lottery employees. During the call, Roberts informed Carle of his decision to re-classify Allahdadi's position as a "Chief' level position.

12. On Monday, April 4, 2016, Roberts sent an email to all Lottery employees, in which Roberts informed employees of his decision to re-classify Allahdadi's position as a "Chief' level position, which was in part based on the removal of Marketing and Research from the group.

13. On Monday April 18, 2016, Roberts sent an email to Heidi Moawad with the twelve page letter requesting an investigation into allegations that Carle and Wheat created a hostile work environment for Allahdadi — the Roberts' Letter. During Mr. Abraham's interview of Roberts, he clarified his letter was not a BOLI complaint, as had been reported by the Willamette Week; rather, it was simply a request for an investigation.

14. Allahdadi reported that he reviewed a version of Roberts' Letter before April 18, 2016; however, Allahdadi never provided Roberts with feedback before Roberts' Letter was submitted to Ms. Moawad. Allahdadi shared Roberts' Letter with Janelle Simmons, Chief Human Resource Officer for the Lottery, before Roberts submitted the letter.

15. Mr. Abraham found that Carle contacted employees with the intent to assess "red flag" concerns from the anonymous emails. Mr. Abraham found that Carle's explanation of her motivation for contacting employees to be very credible. In her words, that motivation was due to the concerns of "What happens if we don't do anything, something horrible happens after he [Allahdadi] is appointed, and it blows up in the Lottery's face, and it is asked [of the Commissioners] 'why didn't you do anything -you had this red flag waiving right in front of you?'" Mr. Abraham found the foregoing was Carle's motivation for interviewing Lottery employees.

16. Mr. Abraham found Wheat did not contact any Lottery employees in conjunction with Carle's efforts. Mr. Abraham found that Wheat's explanation of her motivation for opposing Allahdadi was based on concerns she had on or before March 13, 2016, which is before Carle decided to call any Lottery employees.

17. Mr. Abraham found that neither Allahdadi nor Roberts offered any direct or indirect evidence that Carle was motivated based on Allahdadi's national origin.

18. Mr. Abraham found that neither Allahdadi nor Roberts offered any evidence that Wheat was motivated based on Alla​hdadi's national origin.