You might as well go in alphabetical order."
Regardless of motive, the move by Juvenile Probation Department managers at least looks unseemly, considering Oliphant and Gainey are black (one African American woman was selected; the rest were not black). So each filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the San Francisco Civil Service Commission.
The timing of the new selection rule "suggests the change was made solely to give management the ability to exclude certain individuals from promotion and allow other, lower scoring individuals, to [advance]," Gregg Adam, a lawyer for the duo, wrote to civil service officials and the San Francisco Department of Human Resources in August.
The union that agreed to the rule change didn't even represent Gainey and Oliphant Local 3's rank and file are supervisors, the title the men were hoping to attain. Officials at the Human Resources Department looked into the matter but insisted in a report called for by Adam that management had done nothing wrong. The Juvenile Probation Department was unaware of the test results before it changed the promotion policy because its outside consulting firm hadn't graded them yet, the September report concluded. It also said that the rule of three policy allows for a slightly broader pool of eligibility when more than two positions are vacant.
On the other hand, the report does acknowledge that managers began grading the oral portion of the exams right away. And the list of those who were promoted wasn't unveiled until August, long after the tests were first administered and all of the scores were in. But "there was no evidence" that the rules were changed in an attempt to discriminate against Gainey and Oliphant, according to the report.
Anita Sanchez, executive officer of the Civil Service Commission, recently finished a probe for her department and told us she believes the Juvenile Probation Department management's claim that they had no idea who had earned top scores on the test before broadening the list of applicants eligible for promotion.
But Gainey and Oliphant say the experience has soured them on the Juvenile Probation Department.
"A lot of the kids were rooting for me at the [Principal Center Collaborative Campus].... They were all cheering me on," Gainey said. "Then all of a sudden they found out I didn't get it. The kids were more hurt than I was." *