Update - Public Statement from the Board

The Casa Latina Board of Directors has one immediate goal: We will take all measures necessary to identify where we can do better, to correct any harm done, and to ensure a safe place for everyone who calls Casa Latina home.

Earlier this month, the Board of Directors of Casa Latina commissioned an HR Investigator to conduct an independent investigation regarding allegations of mismanagement of a sexual-harassment investigation and the ensuing disciplinary process. A summary of the findings of that report is now available. We now know that while the internal investigation process met HR guidelines, there were consequential missteps, at various levels, that reflect a lack of HR expertise. While we have corrected these missteps, the Board recognizes these errors were harmful to the individuals involved and to the organization.  A full summary of the findings is below.

Over the weekend, board members were able to enter into direct talks with a delegation of the protesters which was mediated by Washington State Senator Rebecca Saldaña. We regard this as a significant breakthrough. A number of initial agreements have been made, the most pivotal of which is a fundamental agreement that we will work in good faith on a path forward together. The parties have agreed to begin mediation with assistance from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

During this period of rebuilding trust and making necessary changes at Casa Latina, the board will be increasing its level of involvement to provide necessary oversight of operations and stronger support to staff. During this phase, the Board has placed Marcos Martinez, Executive Director, and Araceli Hernandez, Workers Center Director, on administrative leave.

As part of initial negotiations with aggrieved workers, Board members were advised that the hunger strike has ended. Board members were also advised that the aggrieved workers will be removing the encampment at Casa Latina today and are committed to shared principles of restorative justice. Casa Latina will also pay compensation to four Casa Latina members who declined job assignments while exercising their right to protest.  

Summary of Conclusions by D. Diamond Investigation

Names redacted

Based on my investigation, I reached the following conclusions:

  • [HR staff’s] investigation met the standards for conducting a timely, impartial, and complete investigation, according to EEOC Enforcement Guidance, Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI) Guidelines, and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Guidelines for sexual-harassment investigations. 
  • In accordance with HR best practices, [name redacted] should have immediately been placed on paid administrative leave, when [name redacted] reported the 03/05/2021 incident on 03/11/2021.
  • In accordance with HR best practices, [name redacted]  (and subsequently [name redacted] and [name redacted]) should have immediately been offered PTO and proactively connected to counseling services at the expense of Casa Latina.
  • In accordance with the OPEIU Local 8 CBA, Casa Latina’s Employee Handbook, and HR best practices, [name redacted] should have been terminated when the investigation was concluded.
  • In accordance with HR best practices, staff and members should have been notified in a public statement that a sexual-harassment investigation had concluded and disciplinary action had been taken, without sharing the names of the parties or the specific personnel action taken. The public statement should have been followed by immediate, mandatory, sexual-harassment training that included the conduct that occurred as one of the hypothetical examples of prohibited behavior.
  • In accordance with HR best practices, [name redacted] should not have been allowed to work in [name redacted]’s chain of command. If the organization could not restructure [name redacted]’s reporting relationship, [name redacted] and [name redacted]  should have been given the opportunity to decide which one would resign.
  • In accordance with HR best practices, the investigation process for staff for sexual-harassment complaints for staff and members should be the same and use a standard of zero tolerance.
  • There is no evidence that these policy and procedural missteps were attributable to malicious intent. Instead, the failure to act quickly and decisively reflected the lack of depth of Human Resources expertise, both on the part of the investigative team and the Personnel Committee of the Board of Directors

Pilar Pacheco, Casa Latina Board President