Home

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee

Behind The Scenes – When the Masks Come Off

*The documents and audio included here are public record and relate only to SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK OF EAST TENNESSEE, 136 Harvest Lane Maryville, TN 37801, Elaine Streno, Executive Director.  (Any other organization with “Second Harvest” in the name is independently operated and is not associated with the events detailed in any way.)

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee employs about 40 people.  I was one of them for a little over a year and a half.  During that time I watched approximately 11 people leave the organization voluntarily.  I also watched another 7 people get fired.  I became the 8th and yet another followed after me.

When an organization turns over almost 50% of its workforce in just over a year, it should be obvious to everyone that there is a problem somewhere.  I imagine Elaine Streno, Executive Director, would like you to believe that we, the employees, were the problem.  If that were true, that would make her hiring skills questionable at best and the Board might want to get her some professional training in that regard.   Alternatively, I would like to point out that Elaine Streno fired all of us.  Maybe, just maybe, the employees are not necessarily the problem.  One could argue, when you lose half of your employees in a year, management might be the real problem here.

While the details of the other terminations are not my story to tell, I can share all of the details about mine.   You see, in addition to firing me for fabricated allegations, Elaine Streno gave her stamp of approval to a smear campaign that was created and then submitted to the State of TN in an attempt to vindictively stop me from getting unemployment on grounds of “misconduct”.  Apparently, attacking my character/promoting lies about me both in and out of the office and firing me on false and unsubstantiated allegations was not satisfying enough for her.

Initially, as a result of the smear campaign, I was denied unemployment.  I hired an attorney and appealed the ruling.  After nearly 3 months without a paycheck I had my day in court.  For the cynical souls out there who believe there is no justice for the little guy, (and in general I tend to agree) I WON!  Granted, I never should have had to fight for it in the first place, but justice did prevail and raised my faith a notch in the legal system and humans in general.  I did have to literally pay for the justice though in the form of a lawyer so I am going to bring that notch down to half a notch.

The reason I won, was due to LACK OF ANY CREDIBLE EVIDENCE BY THE EMPLOYER.

That’s right.  An unethical and morally bankrupt employer can submit all the lies they want in an unemployment hearing, but then they have to prove them.

Lesson learned:  In an unemployment hearing in TN, all documents submitted to the court as evidence from both sides, along with the audio of the hearing, becomes public record.  As such, I get to share all of it here with you.  The audio is especially entertaining.  Elaine Streno and Patti Clouse are on point with their drama/acting skills – look out Hollywood!  Rick Hessler was not as prepared.  He needed to read his 3 prepared lies….oops, lines.  I understand that though.  When lying comes second nature to a person it is hard to keep them straight and we wouldn’t want to disappoint Elaine would we Ricky?  Who’s a good boy?!  Someone promote this guy!  Oh, that’s right, she created a position for him and did just that.

I am sharing my experience for several reasons. Primarily, I believe it is a public/human interest story with regard to your rights as an employee in an at-will state.  I offer it as an educational tool to bring awareness to the limited scope of these rights, to highlight how the unemployment system can be abused by immoral and unethical employers and to show the limited recourse that employees currently have.

For current employees, these are the faces when the masks come off.  These are the depths some will sink to in their own self interests.  Some are petty vindictive liars, some will turn on you to save their own skin for fear of being the next to be fired, one in particular will lie if it serves him or if there is even the slightest chance it will get him any attention.

For potential employees, I offer it as an employer review.  This is the environment you will be working in and some of the people you will be working for/with.  This is my experience.  You can decide on your own if you want to risk it being yours as well.

For potential donors, this is a behind the scenes look at the environment that you will be supporting.  As Executive Director, Elaine Streno pulls in a six figure salary plus benefits and perks (public record on Charity Navigator shows $128,000 as of 2017, presumably more now in 2019).  She doesn’t have to worry about putting food on her table.  My salary, as well as the majority of those fired averaged about $30,000/yr.   I find it ironic and not the least bit hypocritical that while Elaine states she and the organization “works to eliminate hunger in the community”, she simultaneously takes away the livelihood of so many people and subsequently their ability to provide food for themselves and their families. In my case, I am a single mother helping to support my daughter in college.  Elaine knew that, but she wasn’t happy just taking away my job and paycheck based on unfounded allegations, she vindictively tried to stop me from getting unemployment too.

Finally, by sharing the case file/exhibits/audio and my side of the story I get the chance to respond directly to my accusers which I was not allowed to do before.  Like roaches who run from the light, they are cowards who hide from the truth.   In presenting my story I also feel some degree of vindication for the defamation, harassment, injustice, and lies that were told and spread about me and my character.  Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee under Elaine Streno vindictively took my job, paycheck, benefits, and reputation but she cannot take my voice.   I will tell my story and to be fair, I will share their voices also with the audio.

Like cyber bullies who find joy in hurting and abusing others for the sheer sake of it but cowardly hide behind a computer screen, there are real-life Horrible Bosses who do the same but instead hide behind phony smiles, made-for-media public personas and carefully crafted talking points.  They feel entitled by their money, connections and egos.  They feel safe behind closed doors, fabricating allegations, defaming others, playing god with people’s livelihoods to further a personal agenda.  They take for granted that the truth will never come out and their true character, immoral and unethical deeds and lies will never see the light of day. Then one day, like that scene in the Wizard of Oz, the curtain gets pulled back and the truth is there for all to see and the phony is exposed.  For Elaine and her flying monkeys, today is that day.

The entire experience of working at this organization has held many hard lessons for me. These are the top

10 THINGS I LEARNED FROM SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK OF EAST TENNESSEE

  1. I learned that I was naïve in thinking that working at this non-profit would be different than working in the stereotypical corporate world.  I learned the internal politics, favoritism, egos, power grabs, backstabbing, and the games, they exist in this environment as well.
  2. I learned that, if you are unlucky enough to find yourself in a Horrible Bosses situation in an at-will state, they have a lot of leeway legally to make your working life a nightmare. Of course, like we were told at more than one staff meeting at Second Harvest ETN, “If you don’t like it here, you can go work someplace else”. For the record, that attitude from the Executive Director should be your first clue to start looking.
  3. I learned that things like “retaliation”, “harassment”, “bullying”, “defamation”, “slander”, and “libel” have specific legal definitions and ramifications that only apply in very specific circumstances.  Example, I was written up on false allegations the same day I filed a complaint according to company policy.  It was clearly retaliation.  The allegations were a complete lie and when I asked for the video to prove it I was ignored.  Where is that “core value of respect for all employees” Elaine?   Retaliation for exercising your right to file a complaint is only legally actionable under specific circumstances. To quote my attorney, “there are no laws prohibiting an employer from being a complete a$$h@le and treating you like cr@p”.   As you will see, Elaine Streno takes full advantage of that fact.
  4. With regard to unemployment, I learned that an employer can submit whatever fabricated documents and lies they want against you and a person on the other end simply reads it and decides whether or not to deny you unemployment based on that. They are not required to verify the truth or accuracy of the “evidence”.  If denied unemployment, you are then graciously allowed to appeal the decision if you want to defend yourself.  While an attorney is not required (in TN at least), good luck navigating the system without one.
  5. I learned that an unethical employer can submit false documents and statements and actually lie under oath and there are no ramifications for doing so. I was told by the District Attorney’s office that because I won my unemployment hearing, there was no “harm done”.  Apparently perjury is only perjury if enough harm is done?  I asked what happens when there IS harm done to an employee and was told the employee had the burden of proof to prove the employer lied and the  DA would decide if the case merited an investigation.  That sounds fair…
  6. I learned justice does not have a lot to do with our current legal system, but you can buy it (if you can afford the fee).
  7. I learned that, for the most part, a company policy handbook is not worth the paper it is written on legally except in very specific instances. Example, the part of the Second Harvest ETN manual that states “the following list of conduct may result in immediate termination” can legally be selectively applied to one employee and not another.  At Second Harvest ETN, Elaine Streno chooses who the rules apply to.  As part of her management team, Rick Hessler, LaDonna Waltman and Kathy Prince violated more than one item on the list. No consequences for managers, and two of them were then promoted to Directors.  I on the other hand, was simply accused, and with not a shred of proof, found guilty, punished, and fired. Elaine violated more than one herself but she has no accountability.   It’s nice to be Queen. The discipline policy which was “designed consistent with our organizational values” (ironically true if your consider dishonesty and favoritism values) was overridden for me under the fine print, “we reserve the right to determine appropriate level of discipline”.  Translation:  Elaine decides how the rules are applied also.  Another meaningless line is the organization’s “core value of respect for all staff”.   The fine print on that should read “This is a one-way street.  We demand respect for management.  Managements respect for staff is entirely optional.” The audio and manufactured documents will show how much Elaine respected this member of her staff.
  8. I learned that writing to the Board of Directors detailing serious management issues and potentially illegal actions is a waste of time. Their reply, “We are reviewing your letter and will handle the matter internally.  Thank you for your interest in Second Harvest and its operations”.  They didn’t even try to hide the condescension.
  9. I learned the hard way when people tell you who they are LISTEN the first time. Yes Rick Hessler, I am talking to you. It’s aaaaaall about you babe, just the way you like it.  Your delusional self-serving lies will get an entire section devoted just to them.  Think of the attention Ricky!! Don’t worry about what Elaine will think.  You can just run to her with another lie.  She will believe you – she always does.  (You have to know that others are on to you and not so adoring though right?)  You also apparently suffered some sort of amnesia while under oath (= you lied) so I’ve included texts and voicemail for our little trip down memory lane to help jog your memory.  “Love you forever”, “I’d walk through the fires of hell for you angel”, blah blah blah…more lies…. is it coming back to you yet??  (Wink wink)
  10. I learned that in an atmosphere where people are afraid to be fired for anything or nothing at all, people you thought were decent people and your friends will lie and throw you under the bus in a heartbeat to save their own skin. You two know who you are and while you are at church playing the part of the Good Christians, god knows who you are too.

The following is my true story.

I will start by giving you the backstory so the audio makes more sense but if you want to skip to the audio section you can click here.

I was hired at Second Harvest of East TN in July of 2017 as Operations Admin and was employed there for about a year and a half.  I was dedicated to the organization and I was an excellent employee as evidenced on my annual review (included at end of post).  I showed up early.  I stayed late.  I went above and beyond.   I received 3 raises in my first year and was promoted twice during my time there.

I was first promoted to the position of Nutritionist/Nutrition Education in November of 2017.  Approximately 2 weeks after getting approval for my new position, Elaine fired the woman who was to be my boss.  The official story is that she “retired”.  I was there that Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. and witnessed the affectionately named “goon squad” go to escort her out of the building.   Is it just me or is that a very weird way to “retire”?  Ironically, one of the men in the squad was the next to be fired a few months later.  I was told my promotion was not going to happen after all and the position was put on hold.  When finally reposted, the position had new requirements that prohibited me from applying.

In late November 2018 I was promoted to Inventory Control Coordinator effective at the beginning of January 2019.

Enter Kathy Prince who, at the time, was in charge of I.T.  From the time I started working there Kathy seemed to have a problem with me.  Why?  I do not know.  Her dealings with me were typically passive-aggressive when nobody else was around.  For example, we were the only two in the building and as a courtesy I went to tell her I was going to lunch so she would know she was alone upstairs.  Instead of something like, “Okay.  Thanks. “, her reply was, “It’s a little late to be going to lunch isn’t it?”.  What did that mean?  It was 1:30. I didn’t report to her – we weren’t even in the same department.  I didn’t have a designated time for lunch and I didn’t even have to tell her I was leaving.  Why the attitude?

Regardless, for the most part, I did not have to deal with her in my day to day duties so I just stayed out of her way and ignored the snark when I got it.  That worked until I got promoted to Inventory Control Coordinator.  My new position would require me to get a new office, computer and phone.  I had to deal with her.  This was the beginning of the end and when the dust settled, Kathy would be promoted to Director and I would be fired.  Yet another example of the selective application of Elaine’s “core value of respect for all employees”.

Long story short, I had been asking for help from Kathy for over 5 weeks to get my computer and phone set up.  Her standard reply was, “I am too busy to deal with you”.  Without a computer I was falling farther and farther behind on my work.  I asked for help from my manager and was literally told, “don’t worry about it, it will get done.”  By who?  And when? How was it going to get done when I was the only one who cared that it got done? I had a month end deadline to meet so I scrounged up what I could find and did my best to set it up myself so I could start getting my work caught up.  I was very frustrated that she would not help me (it was her job after all) and my requests to management for help were ignored.  On this particular day she had a confrontational response to everything I requested help with which is detailed in my complaint. She changed my name  in the directory to “Inventory”, my voicemail was forwarded to my boss, she made me ask specifically for every wire, cable, adapter, software, that I needed.  After a few hours of dealing with that I was told once again that she didn’t have time to deal with me so I asked her when she WOULD have time since it had taken over 5 weeks to get this far and I was getting farther behind in my work.

Her response was to hang up on me.  That was the last straw for me.  My job was being affected and we all know that if I had hung up on a manager I would have been fired on the spot. “Core value of respect for all employees” remember??

I went upstairs to see the HR manager, LaDonna Waltman.  She was in the hallway and I asked to speak with her.  We walked into her office,  I shut the door and told her that I wanted to file a complaint.  I sat across from her at her desk and I told LaDonna what had just happened and her first response was to defend Kathy.  I told her that it sounded like she was making an excuse for Kathy’s behavior.  LaDonna seemed to take offense and then shouted at me that she was not making excuses for Kathy and she didn’t appreciate my “attitude”.  I finished giving her the details and she said to put my complaint in writing and she would talk to Kathy and get back to me.

This is how LaDonna got back at me…I mean, back TO me.

This was given to me the same day I submitted my complaint.  The entire write-up is a retaliatory fabrication.  Let’s call a spade a spade LaDonna:  they were Lies. The reality is that there was no “confidential information”, there were no “co-workers” and the only yelling was done by YOU when you got defensive for Kathy.  A quick look by Elaine at the surveillance video would have shown the truth.  I’ve always wondered why you didn’t appear at the unemployment hearing with the “coworkers”.  It might had won the case for you if they actually existed.

Those pesky facts aside, this is what LaDonna presented and Elaine approved without any proof whatsoever.   The allegations were a complete and total fabrication and there was nothing I could do.  It was done intentionally to humiliate me and remind me of my place in Elaine’s hierarchy and it was a total abuse of power by LaDonna who was Team Kathy from the beginning.

I asked for the surveillance video to prove the allegations were false.  I was ignored.  I asked who the “coworkers” were and was told they didn’t have to tell me.  I asked what “confidential information” was shared and was again told they didn’t have to tell me.  They wouldn’t answer me because none of it existed.  It was a retaliatory action for my filing a complaint according to policy against one of their own.

Elaine would never talk to me about the write-up.  She simply issued the verdict of guilty.  An investigation was done by Carole Folta, CFO.  No witnesses or evidence of wrongdoing on my part was found.  I received an email from Elaine stating that Kathy and I were both found to be at fault (for her treatment of me and hanging up on me?).  Regardless, my punishment stood and in addition I was told not to use the printer upstairs anymore but to use the warehouse one instead, presumably to keep me out of their “territory” as I was the only employee with printer restrictions. Was Kathy written up?  Did Kathy have to go to coaching?  I think we all know the answer to that.   Instead, she was promoted to Director of Administration and a target was put on my back.

Feb 1, I was ordered to see a mediator.  The woman brought in as an unbiased third party literally introduced herself as “Elaine’s best friend and neighbor”.  She spent 10 minutes with Kathy and spent the next 45 minutes trying to intimidate and provoke me.  She told me to sit down, I did –  it happened to be directly across the table from her.  She told me my choice of seats showed confrontation and aggression and told me to move seats.  She asked me to sit so I was sitting kitty-corner to her.  Then she told me my posture was defensive and asked me if I was an “angry person”.  That should give you an idea how the rest of that little session went.  After trying to get me to admit that I provoked Kathy into hanging up on me and failing she told me that she would have to report back to Elaine that we could not move forward if I did not take ownership of my alleged “behavior” which I understood as a threat to be fired.  I told her I would not admit to any such thing because I did no such thing.

Feb 4, Elaine called me into Brian’s office and I was told to sign an odd document. I read it and did not understand it and asked her what it was supposed to mean as the wording was ambiguous.  I knew she was setting me up to make it look like I was admitting to what was on the form.  I had done nothing on the form and I told her I was not comfortable signing.  She told me Kathy Prince had to sign it also and it was to go in each of our files.  She said it was simply so we were all on the same page moving forward.  I knew I would be fired if I did not sign it so I did.  As it turns out, my hunch was correct and Elaine would try to use that form as proof of my alleged “toxic behavior” and “public outbursts” so I would be denied unemployment when she finally got to fire me.  You can also see that she lied to me as Kathy’s signature is not on the document that was submitted to the court.  She lied under oath also – it is in the audio.  When asked by the judge, “so both were given written warnings?” Elaine testified, “Absolutely.  Yes.  And they both signed the document and it went into their file.”    Riiiiiight.  Kathy’s signature must be in invisible ink. This is the form she submitted to the State.

That brings us up to the events of Feb 21.  This is my testimony of events that day.  Carole Folta, CFO was subpoenaed to testify on my behalf and verifies that I was not “upset” or “angry” in any way.   Again, the surveillance video would have proven my version accurate.  The video was subpoenaed and not provided by Second Harvest ETN.

Audio #11


Introducing the cast and crew.  These are the names that are part of the public record. I will insert  documents as they apply.

Elaine Streno, Executive Director, SHFB – Audio #3, Audio #4, Audio #5, Audio #9, Audio #12, Audio #13
Rick Hessler, Director of Operations, SHFB – Audio #7
LaDonna Waltman, HR Manager, SHFB
Kathy Prince, Director of Administration, SHFB
Brian Gamble, Director of Inventory Control/Maintenance/Facilities, SHFB – Audio #8
Patti Clouse, Administrative Assistant, SHFB – Audio #6
Carole Folta, CFO, SHFB – Audio #10

AUDIO #1 – Who’s Who

Elaine, Rick, Brian and Patti testified against me.  Carole was subpoenaed to testify on my behalf.  Ironically, LaDonna and Kathy jointly started the character assassination with their lies.  LaDonna and Kathy did not appear to testify.  I have to wonder why?  Unlike the others, were you both afraid to lie under oath? Were you afraid your lies wouldn’t hold up under cross-examination? Were you afraid you couldn’t keep your stories straight?  Or are you both just cowards too afraid to own your acts of deception?

AUDIO #2 – Swear to Tell the Truth (unless you are representing Second Harvest, then meh- it’s how we roll)

Audio #2 is the swearing in under oath.  A few folks from Second Harvest ETN must not have understood the meaning of “tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.  Either that or they just didn’t think it applied to them.

AUDIO #3 – ELAINE STRENO takes the stage

Comments:

First, I am glad I could help you out with some facts Elaine.  Preparation, organization and facts were never your strong point.

Nice petty attempt to minimize my position Elaine.  At first I was an inventory control “trainer”, then my title was “inventory control”, then when pressed by the judge it was finally accurate, “inventory control coordinator”.

Elaine states I confronted a co-worker, disregarded documents and disregarded policies as justification for firing me.  This is the first time she will try to use the document I was forced to sign against me.  When asked by the judge if she witnessed anything she admits that she did not in fact witness anything.  Then she references Brian’s document as some sort of proof.   The only problem being that Brian never witnessed anything either because he was not even there.   His document was fabricated and he was most likely told to write it.  More on that in his section.

The judge has to explain the entire procedure because Elaine didn’t have a clue. He then calls her out on the fact that she did NOT send the documents to our side as she testified.  Yes Elaine, there are rules in the real world and they apply to you too.  You don’t get to call the shots everywhere.  Not everything is run like your organization.

I also want to point out that I worked with this woman (Elaine Streno) for over a year and a half.  She saw me nearly every day. She knows exactly how to pronounce my name.  I would often joke how nobody ever pronounces “Bagel” with a soft A but they always seem to with “Babel”.  She will consistently pronounce it as “Babble” throughout the testimony.  This is how I experienced her character though, vindictive, petty, arrogant and passive-aggressive.  The audios and facts should speak for themselves in this regard.

Rick would follow suit. He also knows exactly how to pronounce my name but Elaine’s a$$ won’t kiss itself will it Rick?

AUDIO #4 – ELAINE STRENO  – Act 1 (and it is an act) or Lies, Lies and more Lies

Comments:

Ahhh,  the document again.  No Elaine, you didn’t ASK me to sign anything.  You sat me down and TOLD me to.  You lied and said that Kathy would have to sign it also and it would be in her file.  You were setting me up and you know it.

No Elaine, I did not have a “disagreement” with Kathy Prince.   Kathy Prince hung up on me after nearly 6 weeks of telling me she was “too busy to deal with ” me and I complained about it.  You are clearly reading off a script claiming “voices were raised, anger”.  Listen to yourself. That did not happen. You admit that you witnessed nothing.   Kathy hung up on me, realized she messed up and ran right to you to spin her story and save face.  You would never speak to me about any of it.  You simply protect your own, side with Kathy and condemn me.  Again, you could have watched the surveillance video but who needs the pesky truth when you have an agenda?

No Elaine, the “mediator”, your best friend and neighbor, did not “work with both employees”.  She was brought in to intimidate me and that is the only reason.  If you cared about mediation at all you would have learned the definition of the word.  You don’t order people to go and the person is supposed to be UNBIASED.  There is not a soul alive who believes your neighbor and best friend is unbiased.

I find it ironic the way Elaine loves to throw the word “toxic” around.  Look in the mirror Elaine – THAT is what toxic looks like. You and your pathetic leadership is what is toxic.   Listen to yourself in these audios.  I am embarrassed for you. You lost half your workforce in a year’s time.  Why do you think that is Elaine?

By the time we get to Audio #12 she claims I am not only toxic, but I am unprofessional and prone to having “public outbursts”.  Really Elaine?  Public outbursts?  And plural now?  Show the surveillance video! Why couldn’t you dig up a witness for these “public outbursts”?  Because the only place they exist is in your vindictive head.  The judge saw through you too.  As far as unprofessional?  Listen to your voice on these audios.  Look at how you behave, the lengths you went to to minimize, discredit and defame me.  You don’t know the meaning of the word professional Elaine.

Elaine claims “absolutely” Kathy was given a written warning and it is in her file.  Riiiiiight. Nobody believes that for a second Elaine.  After giving me the runaround for 6 weeks and hanging up on me Kathy was promoted to Director, I was fired.

Elaine claims I was fired that afternoon.  No.  It was 11:00 when Brian called me up to fire me.  I have the texts. I assume you didn’t want to waste any time getting facts or anything.  You got an email from Patti at 8am, consult with your #1 go-to guy Rick Hessler, get the paperwork ready and fired me – all before lunch.

Elaine then tells the judge that she got an email from Patti Clouse and she made the decision to fire me without ever talking to me about the allegations.  Great leadership Elaine.  Very professional.  You know who she DID talk to though?  Rick Hessler.  I did not report to him in any way.  He witnessed nothing.  I never even saw him that day other than passing in the hall. Why would she consult with him about me at all?

While we are asking questions, why did you create a position for Rick and promote him to Director when he had only been there for a little over 2 years as a warehouse manager?  Why was the position not posted or anyone allowed to apply?  Why did you give him the title of Director of Operations instead of to the man who was actually trained for the job, does the actual work AND has worked there for over 20 years?  Why the favoritism for Rick Hessler Elaine? And why would you fire someone on his word without even talking to the accused?? Because he said so? Because he doesn’t lie?  Newsflash: your rose colored glasses are going to be shattered.  He plays you for benefit just like he played me.  That is what he does.

AUDIO #5 – ELAINE STRENO  –  Double Standards and The Tale of The Fabricated Email

Comments:

So the org chart is private information because I saw it but when Rick Hessler told his entire department about what was on it a full 2 weeks before your official announcement, even though he was told by you not to say a word, that’s different because, you know, it’s Rick.

Do you realize how ridiculous you look Elaine when you make accusations and then are forced to admit that you witnessed nothing?   Where is that “core value of respect for all employees” Elaine? “We expect professional behavior at Second Harvest”, isn’t that what you preach Elaine?

Elaine then claims an email from Rick Hessler was her confirmation of Patti’s allegations and deciding factor to fire me.  The only problem?  You never received an email Elaine.  You lied. Under oath.  (very professional) Why didn’t you submit the email as part of your “evidence”?  Was Rick’s statement that you asked him for  the “email”?  Anyone can tell that statement was prepared.  It was so prepared that he had to read the three lines as his testimony because he probably couldn’t remember what he said.

There could not have been an actual email to you because I never saw Rick that morning except passing in the hall right before I got fired. Surveillance video would have proven that too had you bothered to look.  But, you know, Rick said it so it must be true. You did however forward Patti’s email to Rick at 8 am so he knew the story spin you wanted told when you asked for it.  Admit it Elaine, you didn’t get an email but you did consult with Rick though.  How do I know?  He told me in the following email and it directly contradicts your testimony.  So much for the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth, right Elaine? I was fired for alleged “misconduct” with no actual evidence yet you submit knowingly false documents to the state, defame me and lie under oath and you don’t consider THAT misconduct? The rules don’t apply to you and Rick though do they?

While we are on the subject of truth Elaine.  What is it about Rick?  Why does his word carry so much weight with you?  Because he was a manager? Because Rick couldn’t possibly lie?  Spoiler alert:  lies are his specialty.  I will share some of my favorites in his section and I have plenty more.  You accused me of sharing confidential information.  Were you aware that I wasn’t even off the property yet and Rick was telling the guys that I was fired for taking a piece of paper?  Within an hour the rumor had spread that I went into an office and stole something off a desk.  Is that not gossipping?  Misconduct?  sharing confidential information?  I keep forgetting, …it’s Rick though.

Patti’s email to Elaine:

Ricks statement to the State.  Were you nervous lying Rick because you really messed up the date.  And thanks for clarifying who “I” is.  We never would have known otherwise.  Reads like a perfectly normal “email”…

(More about this fabricated statement in Rick’s section.)  After I saw the statement Rick submitted to the State I sent him an email calling him out on it.  This is a copy of that email and his reply.  Note where he specifically states, “They ask me why you was mad” and “I had no idea why I was being ask”.  Gee Rick, according to Elaine’s statement under oath, you sent her an email explaining it all to her.  You two need to work together better to get your lies straight.

My email to Rick:

Ricks reply:

Rick – your statement is exactly what Patti said in her email that Elaine forwarded to you.  It is truly scary how delusional you can be and how you double down on your lies in your reply.  Narcissists just hate getting called out on their lies don’t they?  They also always have to be the victim.  Nice momentary flash of guilt until “you found out what was said”. What exactly was said Rick? Said by who?  What could possibly justify you lying about me AGAIN and getting me fired?  But of course, me getting fired has to be about YOU somehow doesn’t it?

AUDIO #6 – PATTI CLOUSE goes for an Oscar!

This audio really speaks for itself.  You missed your calling Patti, you should have been an actress. You are an excellent suckup though so you will do great working for Elaine – that is one of those “organization values” she is always preaching about that she loves.

Patti says it herself.  She testifies I say “well then” and walked away.  The exact same thing she said in her email to Elaine.  I SAID “WELL THEN” AND WALKED AWAY.  That was my crime.  Of course by the end when she realizes how lame that is she throws in a little drama to amp it up and support Elaine and Ricks agenda.  Suddenly I become upset, I am “mumbling” and “stomp down the hall” and she had no idea where I went.  In reality, and as Carole will testify, I walked 5 feet across the hall from Patti’s desk  to chat with Carole about a comedy show and she will testify I was not angry or upset at all.  Again…video!

The part I love most Patti is your statement when the judge asks you what you did after I said “well then” and walked off.  You replied, “After that I didn’t do a thing.  I wasn’t sure what I had just encountered with her.”  Seriously Patti?  “What you had just encountered”??  Could you be any more dramatic? It is what is commonly known as a conversation.  That is what you “encountered”.  Look it up in a dictionary.

By the way Patti, remember when you were bragging to me about how you changed all the passwords to all the software applications your last day at your last employer to get even with them for letting you go?   You thought you were pretty clever.  For future reference, you probably shouldn’t say things like that to someone and then help get them fired.  Not clever.

AUDIO #7 – RICK HESSLER  –  Sex, Lies, Texts and Audio – “that’s about it”

Awww Rick.  Why did you have to go and be such a pRick.   Feed the good wolf remember?  I see you let it starve to death.  None of this ever had to happen. You just couldn’t help yourself  though could you?  You are always working the angle for your benefit and you always have to insert yourself into everything to get that drama/attention fix.  You should be careful what you wish for though, you just might get it.  You want the spotlight?  You got it.  This section is all about you….and your lies.  Every lie was a choice Rick…and choices have consequences.

Nobody knows that better than me.  I chose to trust you and I paid the price.  So many people warned me about you. Hell, YOU told me time and time again that I deserved a better man.  The irony is not lost on me that I believed all of your lies and the one true thing you told me I repeatedly laughed off with a kiss.   They told me you were always out for #1 but I defended you every time saying that wasn’t the Rick I knew. Turns out I didn’t know you at all.  You played your part well and I bought every line. And to think while you were upstairs throwing me under the bus (again) that day I was literally downstairs still defending you.

Why did you do it Rick? I will never understand.  On our bad days at the very least I was always your friend.  Did you want me gone because of your promotion?  Because right after you told everyone about your promotion is when you changed so drastically.  The texts can almost pinpoint the date.  Did I complicate things for you with Elaine?  Were you jealous I was working with Brian?  Were you still mad because I called you on your BS lies about me to Brian? Why did you do it?  Of course, I should have seen it coming after what you did to me a few weeks earlier.

Jan 29 – Rick called me and told me that he had just been “scolded” and was told not to help me anymore.  I was to go to only Brian for help.  I asked him who scolded him.  He got upset and said it didn’t matter.  I told him it did matter because Brian is my boss and he told me I could ask for his help.  Confused, I went and told Brian what Rick said and asked if he had a problem with Rick training me on some things.  He said not at all.  I went down to talk to Rick about it and when I walked in his office he was on the phone.  I stood right next to him and he never looked up.  I could see on the display he was talking to Brian and he was talking about me.  As I stood there he told Brian that I was “out of control”, “something is wrong with her” and he “didn’t know what to do”.   I tapped my fingers on the desk to get his attention but he kept on and ignored me.  As you can imagine, when he hung up and looked up and saw me he flew out of his seat. Sucks to get caught red-handed lying doesn’t it Rick?  I sarcastically asked him “you want to explain that to me or am I just too out of control”? He began yelling and accused me of insubordination threatening to take me to HR and write me up for it. “I am a manager! You don’t  talk to me that way.  That’s your problem – your attitude!   Let’s go upstairs and settle this right now!” he said.    I laughed in his face because you know, I am the one who is “out of control” and that further infuriated him.  I left and told Brian what had just happened.  Nothing was said or done.  “Be the better person and rise above it” Brian would tell me.  Thanks for your support Brian. We can see how that worked out.

I would get the silent treatment for a week or so until once again, I had to smooth things over and remind him that we were grownups and worked together.  We would chat in my office and literally kiss and make up and I thought everything would go back to normal. Notsomuch.  The next day his lie would be all Elaine needed to fire me.

Rick – I never wanted to bring any of this up because it makes me look bad how easily you played me. I never wanted to bring our personal stuff into any of this.  But you went and made it personal Rick.  You lied about me – repeatedly. You spread rumors about me – the day I got fired and even afterwards. Hey Elaine, you accused me of gossiping and spreading confidential information.  Did you know that your Golden Boy was telling everyone I got fired for stealing a paper off a desk?  I wasn’t even off the property yet and he was spreading the word to the guys.  Buy hey, it’s Rick right? so no big deal.

You got me fired. You slandered me.  Then you helped try to stop me from getting unemployment.  You actually testified against me. The lies, the arrogance in your voice in this audio denying we had a personal relationship and then your voice when asked if it had an unhappy ending.   Of course, for you, I suppose it was the truth and it did not have an unhappy ending.  You got your promotion – your cozy little spot under Elaine.  You got me out of the way. You always said I complicated things for you but you would never explain how.  I guess you must have meant your power play.  What would Elaine think if she found out right?  Or did she already know and that’s why she wanted me gone so bad?

In addition to all the drama you put me through, word got back to me that you are telling people there that I am a psycho nutcase who stalks you and begs to see you?  Really Rick?  You could at least change it up a little bit.  That’s the same sad story you tell about all your exes. You do realize don’t you that when a man your age says that about every woman he has ever been involved with, everyone knows who the nutcase is right?  You aren’t fooling anybody (except of course, Elaine).

Rising above and being the better person didn’t benefit me much so I am going to sink to your level for a moment so I can speak in terms you understand.  The only difference is that I will speak the truth.   That will be foreign to you for sure.   Get your temper in check because I am calling you out for the manipulative liar that you are.  That’s right Rick, Hell hath no fury like a woman fired because of your own personal agenda and delusional attention seeking lies.  You knew I was helping support Jess in college and you not only lied to help get me fired, you helped to try and stop me from getting unemployment too?!  I cannot say I wasn’t warned.  I was initially torn as to whether to share our personal stuff but then, and I am quoting you darlin, “I felt bad, until I heard what was said”.

This is what was submitted to the State from Rick as “proof” of my alleged misconduct.

Ricks entire account of what happened is a lie. The fact that he had to read the statement instead of being able to recall what happened says a lot.   I never saw Rick that day except passing in the hall before I got fired.  The video surveillance would prove that.  Again, nobody wanted to see it.  I was never angry, I never went to see him.  I never mentioned anything about titles on the org chart because I didn’t talk to him.  It did not happen.  But saying it did had a benefit for him.  He knew what Elaine wanted to hear.  She sent it to him in the email from Patti.  For extra kick he threw in another line about something that happened weeks earlier in a personal conversation.  He saw his shot to make Elaine happy and get rid of me at the same time and he took it.

The conversation he refers to in his statement about me asking why he had managers reporting to him happened 2 weeks earlier in my office and it came up again a few days before I was fired.  He told his entire crew about his promotion two weeks prior even though Elaine had said not to mention anything until she made it official. You heard her testify that it was confidential information right?  I guess that only applied to me and not Rick. At any rate, I was confused as to why Brian didn’t get the Director of Operations title and why Rick had 2 managers under him and Brian, with 4 divisions, had none, so I simply asked him why Brian didn’t get any managers.  I guess he felt I was disrespecting him somehow and defending Brian.  He got jealous and defensive and I let the issue go. I didn’t want to poke the bear right Rick? What I “continuously questioned him” about was why he was so mad at me asking that question.  Maybe because you know you don’t deserve the position or the title?  I got the silent treatment for the next few days which was his typical response when he was mad at me which was basically any time I questioned him about something.

Under oath, when asked if we had a personal relationship,  Rick denies it.  Apparently he was suddenly hit with amnesia.  “Mmmm….we were friends and that’s about it”.   Really Rick? And it’s the way you say it.  A far cry from the voicemails, texts, things you’d whisper in my ear and, well, I guess you’d call them “friendly” sexcapades “and that’s about it”?

Why would you lie about something everybody pretty much knew anyway Rick?  Why did it matter?  Because Elaine was sitting right next to you?

I am concerned about the apparent amnesia you suffered so I am going to help jog your memory with a few things.

Remember this voicemail? You leave this for all your “friends and that’s about it”? I’ve got more if it’s still fuzzy in your mind Rick.

How about some songs Ricky!  They say music triggers memory.  You sent me so many songs we could make an entire playlist of “friendly” songs if you want.

Waiting For A Girl Like You – Foreigner

Hooked on a feeling – Blue Swede

Suga Suga – Baby Bash and so many more…

Is it coming back to you yet Rick?  How about a few texts?  I’ve got over a year’s worth to choose from but I will keep it simple.  Warning to the next lady in line: he does have a way with words and I would love to share those too so you know the play but my goal here is not to embarrass him, it’s to prove he lied under oath and these simple texts will do.

We?  thought you testified under oath there was no “we”.  In retrospect, reading that “disaster” text I almost think you knew what you were going to do already…

or until I complicate a promotion?

must be that “just friends”kind of jealousy right Rick?

Well you did not end up being my Superman…just a super jerk

that again?  I think you confused forever with Feb 21

Obviously, “just friends, that’s about it” type texts. And no unhappy ending for you!  You got your promotion and the adoration of Elaine.  Be thankful I kept it simple and didn’t show all of them Rick.  I gotta hand it to ya though, you did know how to sell it.

The last text was 2 days after I got fired.  I didn’t know his involvement in my firing yet and he never responded to my text or call telling him that I got fired.  I did not know then that he willingly threw the match on the pile of gasoline rags Elaine had set out.   Then I got that last text accusing ME of throwing HIM under the bus.  Can you explain that Rick or is it just another delusional lie?  How exactly did I throw you under the bus?  Still not sure how that works since I was the one who got fired. Classic though, you always have to be the victim don’t you Rick?

Would it have killed you to apologize and explain Rick.  That’s what a decent man would have done.  You are not a decent man though are you? Instead you talk trash about me, tell people  not to have contact with me “for their own good” and turn it around that I did something to you.  I guess guilt will do that.

I want you to know that I don’t hate you though Rick.  I cannot hate a snake for being a snake.  I actually want to thank you for taking the mask off and showing me who you really are.  I would probably still be making a fool of myself defending you and would have wasted even more of my life and time on you.  You did me a favor.   Stupid as it was, I genuinely loved you  and usually those things are hard to get over.  You made it really simple. It took a minute but after working through the shock, hurt and anger at what you did to me, and realizing how you played me and everything you ever said to me was a lie, I finally feel nothing for you. Nothing but pity because you have a huge tab to pay when Karma comes knocking at your door – and she will.  Still, it’s a little sad because it all could have been so different – but you are not capable of being a better man.

AUDIO #8 – BRIAN GAMBLE

Brian’s document to the State as part of the “proof” of my alleged misconduct:

I would love to know the story behind this.  Brian was not even there.  He saw nothing, heard nothing.  Yet, this statement is written as if it were fact and as if he witnessed it.  It is very specific considering his absence.  He even states that I “said a few inappropriate phrases and went back to my office”.  Really Brian?  What were the phrases you heard?  And you saw me go back to my office?  Because Carole will testify that I walked across the hall and chatted with her which is the truth.  Again, video.  I then also chatted with Rhea about the comedian. I did not go back to my office. As a matter of fact I was so happy for you because I saw you had the title of Director of Operations like you rightfully should have that when I did go back downstairs, I went and asked Mark. I was never angry or upset. I was actually happy – for you.

Tell the truth Brian, either someone told you their version and told you to write it up or they wrote it for you.  There is no way you could have volunteered that on your own.  You were not there.  What I will never understand is why you played along?  You already knew Elaine was handing the title you earned over to Rick instead of you.  Were you afraid of getting fired, sorry,  “retired” like Gail if you did the right thing and defended me to Elaine or pulled the video? I would really like to know someday Brian – why did you not stand up for me or at least stand up for the truth?  You knew Elaine had a target on my back.  You knew from the start the allegations were BS.  You knew Rick had his hand in it and they had an agenda but “sometimes we have to do what we have to do”?  And what did you have to do Brian?  Sacrifice me to save your own skin?

You didn’t say much in your testimony Brian but what you did say spoke volumes.  You could barely look at me when they made you fire me.  You were visibly upset and it was obvious I had no clue what was going on while LaDonna was getting off on her power trip.  Your testimony was “sometimes we have to do what we have to do”.  Really?   I want to believe that was code somehow to let me know that you felt you had no choice or you would be fired.  Still, no outreach, no apology, no explanation, nothing.  You did get to keep your job though.  For now at least.  We both know how that is going to play out though don’t we?  It has probably already started.  Your duties will slowly get transferred to Elaine’s Golden Boy Rick.  Elaine will make you train him to take your place.  Then one day on a whim of Elaine’s you’ll suddenly “retire” on a Friday at 4 and that will be that.  I hope I am wrong because despite everything, I know you are a good man and I hate to see you get messed with like that – you don’t deserve it, but we both saw the writing on the wall even back then.

You always told me to be the better person.  Maybe next time, take your own advice.

AUDIO #9 ELAINE STRENO – Gets Called Out By The Judge

Comments:

What did you witness Elaine?  Nothing.  Everything you testified to was hearsay.  If you cared about facts, were the least bit professional and had any respect for employees you could have looked at the video or at the very least talked to me, but you deliberately did not. The truth didn’t fit your agenda did it? You are such a coward that you couldn’t even face me, you sent your henchwoman LaDonna to do your dirty work.

Despite never witnessing a thing, you claim I am “toxic”, “there was anger”, I “marched away”, went to Rick and was “toxic and challenging”.  Then  you throw in “gossiping” and “not being a team player” as icing on your BS cake of lies.

The ultimate hypocrisy is your statement: “We expect professional behavior here at Second Harvest.  This was not shown that morning by Ms. Babel”.   Really Elaine?

This entire situation proves you don’t actually have a clue what the word “Professional” means do you?  When exactly did you handle any of this professionally?  Look in the mirror Elaine – the Empress wears no clothes.

AUDIO #10 – CAROLE FOLTA – The Truth Had To Be Subpoenaed, But Still, It Came Out

Comments:

I know you did not want to be there and I know it had to be hard to tell the truth with Elaine sitting there and knowing her agenda, but thanks for telling the truth anyway even if you did make us work for it at times.  It must be frustrating being one of the few members of management with a working moral compass.

AUDIO #12 – ELAINE STRENO – Going in for the kill

Comments:

I am now toxic, unprofessional AND having “public outbursts” Elaine?  Would have probably helped your case if you had brought in a witness to these “public outbursts” or shown the video but you didn’t.  Why?  Because it was another lie and they don’t exist.  You might want to read your BS core value statement again.  “Respect for all employees” remember? You expect professional behavior at Second Harvest remember?  You are such a phony.

I would like to know how your twisted brain works.  Explain your statement “then why on Jan 16 did you sign notes that you did not make a complaint and you did not raise your voice when you were not counseled?  You had to have been counseled about public outbursts for you to let us know that that wasn’t accurate.”

What kind of logic is that? What does that even mean?

  1. Get your facts straight. I never stated that I did not make a complaint – I obviously made a complaint. That’s what all of this is about after all isn’t it? Retaliation for filing a complaint.
  2. On what planet does me signing a statement denying the allegations and stating they are false mean I was counseled on “public outbursts”??

Were you so blinded by spite and vengeance that you couldn’t even think rationally?

Listen to yourself on the audio Elaine.  If you had any self-respect at all you would be embarrassed.

This has to be my favorite part of this audio:

STRENO:  Why did you go to talk to Rick if you were not upset about the org chart incident at Patti’s desk?

BABEL: The video (that we subpoenaed and was not provided)  would show that I did not see Rick that day except passing in the hall before I was fired.  I never spoke to Rick that day.

STRENO:  you didn’t…you’re saying you did not go to Rick’s office to talk to him even though there is testimony from him that you did.

BABEL:  That is exactly what I am saying.

Elaine – LOL  You sound so shocked that I would dare to contradict The Golden Boy.  It’s obvious Rick can do no wrong in your eyes but seriously? What exactly did that comment mean?  You are accusing ME of lying because Rick testified to something different?  Did it ever occur to you that I was under oath too?  Of course not. You never spoke to me at any point about any allegation, you condemn me on hearsay with zero evidence, you have zero witnesses and you refuse to look at the video that would vindicate me.  Then you assume I am lying because RICK says so?  Forget “respect for all employees”, have some respect for yourself  Elaine.  You are a total hypocrite and a pathetic leader.

AUDIO #13 – ELAINE STRENO – Elaine throws her last pile of sh!t at me

Comments:

Seriously Elaine – after all the trouble you went to to create this smear campaign, your closing statement is:

“I just want to make sure that the promotion that was mentioned about nutritionist, that was a lateral, that was not a promotion, that was a lateral move.”

At least I can laugh closing this out.  That was so pathetically lame that I cringe for you when I hear you say it. You must be mortified listening to that now. Then again, that would assume some level of self-awareness.

Thanks for the laugh though.  I will forever have the image of you in my mind as a hysterical monkey flinging sh!t at me.  Pretty sure the judge saw it that way too.  It took him 5 minutes to rule in my favor. You made a fool of yourself….again.  Do yourself a favor Elaine.  Retire.  You are not a respected leader. You are not even a leader.  Your temper and impulsive decision making is feared.  Fear is not respect.  You have not earned the respect of most of your employees.  The employee survey results are a direct reflection of YOUR management ability – or lack thereof.   50% turnover rate in a year remember?  50% is almost as high as the employee satisfaction score.

You can sit on your throne and feel like you have won something in all of this but you have not.  You have only proven by your own actions and voice that you are a spiteful phony, a hypocrite and a truly pathetic individual and so-called “leader”.

Retrospectively, getting fired was a blessing in disguise for me.  It got me out of what is genuinely a toxic environment and it ended my admittedly dysfunctional relationship with Rick.  Thanks for that.

Moving forward I can smile knowing you and Second Harvest are in my past.  While you were successful at messing with my life for a bit, smearing my name, taking my paycheck and financial help for my daughter, I can still smile.  I smile a little harder knowing that when Karma comes calling for you she will be an even bigger bitch than you are.