Agreement is the meeting of minds or a mutual understanding between two or more persons about their reciprocal rights and duties regarding past or future performances —uslegal.com
by Keith Purtell - published Nov. 1, 2018
9:36 a.m./March 16 2016 While doing a job search from Hardesty Regional Library in Tulsa, Okla., I received an unexpected phone call. The caller identified herself as Taryn Mason (AKA Taryn Davis) at AppleOne in Tulsa, saying they found my web developer resume online and were offering me an
Owasso tech job. I had never heard of AppleOne, but this offer matched my resume. Mason spelled out her first name T-a-r-y-n for me. She followed up on the call by sending me emails with
Owasso tech job as the subject line ( PDF | Image ).
1 p.m./March 17 2016 I arrived at the Tulsa AppleOne offices on 41st Street
for the appointment to discuss the
Owasso tech job. Mason met me at the counter. She directed me to quickly sign some electronic documents online before meeting with her associate. A computer was set up and ready to go, because
Mr. Keeney was waiting to talk to me about the
Owasso tech job. She instructed me to open each document and scroll straight to the bottom and sign it (electronically).
In a meeting room, Michael Keeney asked me
What brings you here? I told him that I was a web developer looking for work, and I had received a call from his co-worker Taryn Mason offering an
Owasso tech job.
Huh, that’s funny. We don’t have any tech jobs. He went on to offer a detailed description of his career and employment struggles and his opinion that the Tulsa job market was so bad that most would not pay more than $15 per hour.
He then said AppleOne was going to send me to be a bill collector at a financial services company in Owasso, just north of Tulsa.
I was dismayed at this prospect. I was barely staying financially afloat on unemployment insurance while looking for work. The documents I had just signed in order to hear about my
Owasso tech job made me an AppleOne employee.
Arguing with the company that just
hired me would virtually guarantee losing my entire financial safety net.
Someone from a rich family or with friends in high places could have just stomped out the door. When AppleOne subsequently stripped that person of every penny of their unemployment insurance, it would not make much difference. The rich kids get special treatment.
Whereas for me, losing every penny would have been just as brutal as it sounds. I literally could not afford to stand up for myself in that manner. This is the kind of leverage that corporations like AppleOne/TALX have over Americans.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II
We must show the nation that if you scratch a racist [or corporatist], you’ll find a thief who will steal healthcare, living wages, & the social safety net to benefit corporate interests.
8:51 AM · Jul 8, 2020·Twitter Web App
more about Dr. Barber's poor peoples campaign...
I realized why they put document-signing in front of the current discussion. My signature on those items was now hanging over my head and the conversation with AppleOne. I asked Keeney for copies of the documents I had signed. His response was a vague
I don't think so. I thought he was saying they were internal documents to which I was not entitled or that were of no interest to me. I kept trying to think of a way out.
What kind of people understand what that situation felt like? People who are financially hanging by a thread—they understand.
Getting me to sign documents when I walked in the door enabled AppleOne to cut me off from my only source of income while job-searching; unemployment insurance. This was a form of coercion, because the environment (living in Oklahoma) contains the threat of lost income. Radical far-right politics make that threat real. Suddenly, I knew why Mason did not look me in my eyes when I gave her my name at the counter.
The only thing that came to mind was to start keeping track of every scrap of documentation in the future. Maybe, through that level of attention, I could prevent AppleOne from again catching me off guard.
The bill collector job was a disaster. I flunked the financial services company training exam. Most of the people in the training class seemed to have aptitude in finance or math. It was strange to be in a room surrounded by people whose skill set and professional experience was so different than mine.
I was also unable to meet the floor manager's basic requirements. I tried to put more energy into my external job search but it was already maxed out, and I was burning a lot of energy trying to be a bill collector.
The financial services company managers monitored performance by displaying each person's name and rank on a large whiteboard. Each time I walked past it, I saw my name at the bottom.
One day a co-worker heard me trying to handle a phone call. She sat down at my computer and typed some financial material. The successful processing of that material briefly resulted in my daily rank within the
pod group going up a notch. I'm pretty sure our manager did not know it was her work not mine.
After a career of successful work in technology and communication, this was a daily humiliation. Plus, a number of the temp and permanent workers told me the standard practice for anyone deemed
Not a good fit was to have security guards frog-march them out of the building like a criminal.
Escape, escape, escape. It was difficult to think of anything else. My job search had already been six-and-a-half days each week, and now this huge distraction of being roped into AppleOne's "tech job" scam. An extremely difficult situation was now much worse.
The situation was rapidly becoming unbearable. Stress ramped up daily. There was one AppleOne manager on the floor, and each time I saw that person, I remembered the sinking feeling of hearing Keeney say
We don't have any tech jobs.
9:50 a.m./June 8, 2016 I submitted my resignation to managers via email, which included a mention of the fact that the only reason I signed a piece of paper making me an employee was that I was told (in writing) that I was getting a technology job. At least the folks at the financial services company would have a better understanding of what went wrong.
10:51 a.m./June 9, 2016 I wrote and asked AppleOne for a normalization in our relationship; that the work they arranged for me be something where I had experience and demonstrated aptitude. In legal terminology, this was my good-faith effort to resolve the matter. My email said ...
Folks I'm keeping in touch with [you] going forward. The job search I'm doing now will be based more on networking, since the resume-distribution approach has not been fruitful. Please let me know if you have a role for which my internet and communications skills would be appropriate.
Mason responded eight minutes later (on AppleOne company letterhead) by openly mocking me, mentioning the timing of my resignation notice and saying AppleOne was unconcerned about the results of their recruitment practice.
... Going forward, we will not be able to help you in the future.
1:53 p.m./June 9 2016 In response to Mason's note, I wrote back:
... AppleOne has a certain degree of professional responsibility for the people over whom it has power, especially once those people have appeared at your offices and signed the paperwork. That includes a responsibility to be honest about job descriptions.
I copied that note to Patricia Bryant, a vice president at AppleOne/ACT‑1 headquarters in California, the only AppleOne manager whose email address I could locate. I hoped that Bryant would moderate the actions of her staff in the Tulsa office.
Not only did Bryant never respond (to me), she apparently tacitly approved of what the Tulsa office was doing. Mason's sign-off
Going forward, we will not be able to help you in the future. turned out to be another layer of deception by implying a clean break.
Behind the pretense of normal office procedures, Mason and her managers secretly launched an expensive and elaborate retaliation to deprive me of my entire financial safety net. That plan involved getting permission from local AppleOne management (Bill Bryan?), and contacting an outside company with a long record of creating hardships for working people nationwide. But, that gets ahead of the narrative. About a month went by ...
July 7, 2016* I telephoned the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) in Oklahoma City. The OESC is part of Oklahoma state government that deals with employee/employer relations. I told the rep that my relationship with my most recent employer had unexpectedly ended and I was uncertain of the effect on my unemployment insurance. He dug through some records and said the OESC contacted AppleOne on June 14 about my status but did not get a response. He also said AppleOne had turned the matter over to a
St. Louis company named TALX. I had never heard of that company. The OESC representative also said he did not understand why AppleOne was involving an outside party. There were several more exchanges as he pulled up documents on his computer screen looking for details. Eventually, I thanked him and said good-bye.
[ CLARIFICATION: I got email on Tuesday, July 5, 2016, from another State Of Oklahoma/OESC rep, trying to help me find out why my unemployment checks were delayed. On either that date, or on July 6 or July 7, she invited me to visit the
Skyline OESC office to use their phones. I have used
July 7 to describe the call where the OESC identified TALX because that's the first time the word
TALX shows up in my emails. More below... ]
Subsequent research revealed TALX has been repeatedly under scrutiny by the federal government and the target of investigative journalists for preying on unemployed people. Specifically, TALX was helping companies increase their profit margin by cutting off qualified people from their unemployment insurance, rather than said companies focusing on quality products and services—the traditional path to corporate profits.
Making it personal
Clearly, one of AppleOne's main goals was to make the retaliation personal. By reading my email requesting normalization and then making a conscious decision to strip me of my entire safety net, they got personal.
I tried to contact several Tulsa attorneys who might donate or discount their services. * (No one I'm aware of specializes in this type of thing. Also, in the legal profession, the phrase 'employment law' means the attorney represents employers not employees.) None of those persons responded to my calls or emails.
A female attorney said she would not take my case but could speak with me briefly on the phone.
I told her that someone had warned me that the State of Oklahoma was "business friendly" in these matters and willing to look aside when employers overtly abuse employees. Her response: "'Business friendly' is the polite way to put it."
Later, I received in the mail an automated printout from the State Of Oklahoma (OESC) stating my unemployment insurance had been cut off. I immediately went online and filed an appeal. They responded and set a date for a hearing, and included a stack of official documents explaining the process that went to the then-current appeal phase.
I began doing deep research and preparation, including contacting friends and fellow professionals. Carefully following the state government's rules and procedures seemed to be the best path. I submitted the names of the financial services company managers (Derrick Shaw and Terry Ollar) who had closest contact with my work, including the man who ran the training sessions (Charles Zweifel). Obviously, I was making a painstaking effort to respond to the OESC's published description of their appeals procedure.
I had no way of knowing that AppleOne and TALX were making arrangements inside the State of Oklahoma (OESC).
Witnesses, evidence... POOF
Looks like a shell game
Aug. 15, 2016 I dialed into a hearing-by-telephone with the State of Oklahoma. I had been told just prior that AppleOne/TALX would not attend, which was a positive indicator. Research indicated that employers often don't show up when they realize a hearing will probably go against them.
State of Oklahoma hearing officer Stephanie D. Jackson immediately issued two declarations: 1) She would not discuss the documentation I submitted, and would rely exclusively on several documents she herself was admitting as evidence, and 2) She denied my right to call witnesses, claiming that the two managers who oversaw my work were not "relevant," nor was the man who attempted to train me.
From the transcript:
The claimant has the burden to provide reasons for quitting and can testify present evidence concerning the circumstances leading to the separation.
[...and the OESC's policy on witnesses just went out the window.]
Strangely, the hearing officer made almost no mention at all of the fraudulent job offer that kicked off the entire sequence of events. I say
almost because at one point in the interview she spoke of it in a mocking tone of voice. This was one of several times when speaking that she displayed raw emotion.
Here is a section from the State of Oklahoma website regarding witnesses:
At this level of the administrative process, the parties participate in a hearing conducted by an State of Oklahoma hearing officer. All parties appear before the hearing officer at the same time. An audio recording is made of each hearing. Each side is allowed to present witnesses and documentary evidence in support of his or her case, and to cross-examine the witnesses of the opposing party. At this level, parties sometimes bring new, more extensive evidence than what was presented to the claims adjudicator for the original claim, protest and determination.
As best I can tell, the published OESC policy on hearings is part of a core U.S. legal principle called due process.
Violating State of Oklahoma (OESC) policies on calling witnesses served an important purpose, at least from the perspective of AppleOne/TALX.
Blindsided by the unexpected twists in the hearing, I didn't stop to think that only the state legislature has the authority to suspend published OESC policies.
One of the matters to be decided in these situations is whether or not the employee was in jeopardy of losing his/her job. As someone without any aptitude or experience in finance or mathematics, someone who was not gaining the minimum skills necessary to retain his job, I was very much in jeopardy of being fired, and in a particularly ugly way. The people who were in the best position to testify to that? The same people I had called to be witnesses; financial services company managers (Shaw, Ollar, Zweifel) familiar with what constituted an employee who was
not a good fit. Removing those people from the procedure prevented crucial evidence from being submitted.
Excluding my carefully-prepared evidence had an equally chilling effect. I was not just facing the combined corporate power of AppleOne and TALX, I was facing open collaboration by the State of Oklahoma (OESC).
The remainder of the hearing included the hearing officer trying to discourage me from discussing events and documents, and arguing when I pointed out the forged document rc1519.
Offering workers an opportunity to present relevant documentation and witnesses has long presented a problem to Oklahoma employers. If said worker does their homework on how to properly present information, then the employer faces the risk of having to pay into that person's unemployment insurance. Meanwhile, Oklahoma politicians have been signaling the business community that they should never face responsibility for unethical or illegal behavior. If you were a greedy businessman and received that promise, wouldn't you want a loophole in OESC procedures?
What business wants, the State of Oklahoma delivers.
It works like this: presenting documentation or witnesses might give the appellant some influence over the outcome of the hearing. Now, the material offered by the worker can be thought of as a narrative that arranges provable (or known) facts in a certain order. The appellant may give more or less emphasis to different parts of the narrative. The appellant may offer conclusions about the narrative.
The obvious problem, especially in a situation where the employer declines to show up, is that there is no one present to block the citizen's appellant presentation from being taken seriously. Enter the hearing officer...
Aug. 18, 2016 I received a letter dated Aug. 16, 2016, stating there would be no change in the denial of my unemployment insurance. I already knew the OESC denies at least 75% of appeals, according to their own publications. Oklahoma is a
business friendly state, including friendly to businesses that are hostile to ordinary Oklahomans.
That letter and related documents share one inescapable feature: What is missing. The hearing officer has carefully omitted any reference to the fraudulent job offer that caused all of this to happen. Please hold that in mind as you read.
Board of what?
In theory, there was an option. Buried in State of Oklahoma paperwork was reference to a board of review, a state office that specializes in handling overflow. But, the reference implied there was a moral compass in proximity to the OESC, and that the people therein might correct actions of fellow state employees working as hearing officers. I describe that as a problem because the hearing officer herself was already under the guidance of a moral compass;
the canons of The Model Code of Judicial Conduct for State Unemployment Insurance Appeals Officers, established by the National Association of Unemployment Insurance Appellate Boards.
The hearing officer was also under the guidance of her own managers, who published core procedures to make sure every Oklahoman gets an impartial hearing, specifically a hearing where they can present documentation and have witnesses present. And, the average person might also think that if these published procedures were abandoned, the State of Oklahoma would give a reason.
I wonder if some idiot out there will someday say to me: "You should have gone to the board of review. Their published description says they do the right thing!"
To which, my answer is: "Isn't that the same thing I was told about the hearing officer? That the published description said I was guaranteed a fair hearing with the right to submit documentation and call witnesses? Why would I go back to the State of Oklahoma for a second round of abuse?"
In other words, give me one visible reason why I should take the honesty of the board more seriously than the honesty of the hearing officer.
So, as I sat in my cheap apartment reading the bad news, I mentally took a step back. It was suddenly obvious that AppleOne and TALX had outfoxed me.
My “failing” was that I read the OESC official description of how a hearing works and believed it. They said I had a right to present documents and call witnesses, and I believed it.
In the United States, temporary and contract employment totaled 14.5 million [workers] in 2016, down from 15.6 million in 2015, the highest employment figure recorded since the year 2000.
—The staffing industry in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts | Statista (Jul 12, 2019)
agreed, you mean ...
Here is part of the wording the OESC hearing officer generated:
The claimant signed up with Apple One, a temporary agency, in hopes [ PDF | Image ] of being assigned to a job consistent with his training and prior job history, which is in the information technology field. Once signing up however, the claimant agreed to take an assignment with [financial services company], a client of Apple One as a Collections II employee.
I bolded a section containing a crucial word:
Agreement is the meeting of minds or a mutual understanding between two or more persons about their reciprocal rights and duties regarding past or future performances, according to uslegal.com.
Often the term agreement is used as a synonym for 'contract,' [although] it lacks an essential element of contract, such as consideration. The term agreement is much broader in meaning than the term contract. Every contract would be an agreement but every agreement is not a contract.
At the time I entered the AppleOne offices, my only way to pay for rent, food, fuel for the car, etc. was the weekly $248 unemployment insurance checks from the Oklahoma state government. Anyone who has had to rely on
UI to stay afloat knows about certain rules: Never fake an entry in your job search log, Never take a job and refuse to do what you are asked, Never show up for a job interview wearing unprofessional clothing, etc... By the time I sat down with Michael Keeney, I had already signed a stack of papers making me an AppleOne employee, believing doing so was leading to an
Owasso tech job.
No I won't work for you would have terminated my Unemployment Insurance. [ PDF - OESC on job refusers ]
AppleOne telling me that I was there to receive a tech job in Owasso ensured that I would sign up as an employee. The pre-existing risk of losing every penny of my income (unemployment insurance) ensured that I could not walk out the door once AppleOne told me there was no tech job.
Agreed is a convenient fiction for the hearing officer. It sidesteps the temp agency's malice in telling people they are being offered a job in their profession. It masks the creepiness of Kathy O'Leary at TALX working out a custom solution with the OESC's Apellate Division. Over time, the hearing officer's dishonesty about what I faced in the temp agency's offices has probably let AppleOne evade a charge of criminal fraud.
Furthermore: Defamation. The OESC hearing officer went on the official record saying that I willingly showed up for that job. She knew the statement was untrue. She knew that refusing to follow direction from an "employer" like AppleOne would get me cut off from the small trickle of income to pay rent. In this instance, her false statement was the same thing as calling someone a coward or a fool.
Of course, she might have been motivated by forgetfulness. After a long time span making $51,000 per year as a state employee, plus a legal practice on the side, it's easy to forget what it feels like to work for a living and survive on $248/week.
It's important to understand the mindset of any person ensnared in an OESC hearing. People representing powerful corporate interests, and more people representing a powerful government agency, are on one side. The job seeker who (unwittingly) signed-up-for-one-job but required-to-do-another-job is on the other side. This mix of many powerful people and one ordinary person is not trivial. It is loaded with strong emotion; mostly fear. The employee is in fear of a catastrophic loss of income. In a society where everything—including health care, housing and transportation—has a steep price tag, the loss of income towers over ordinary people.
The hearing officer knew of this when she wrote the statement above, because as a state employee, she is intimately familiar with their procedures. In a Feb 16, 2018, email, the OESC told me that at least a third of people who refuse a work assignment are subsequently stripped of their financial safety net. [ PDF OESC statement ] Of course, for me as a person on the street, the version I had heard from other working people was 'Absolutely never do that.' We did not have detailed statistics or, for that matter, the freedom to toy with our own financial future.
This is why AppleOne did not show up for the hearing; their business-friendly decision was already in the bag.
Who spoke what?
More from the hearing officer:
Soon after beginning work with [financial services company], the claimant realized that he was having difficulty understanding and applying the training materials. Although he asked questions during the training, he did not communicate with anyone in management at [temp agency/financial services company] at that time that he was having trouble with the work. After leaving the initial training, the claimant was transferred to a hands-on training process, where he continued to struggle. However, he did not inform anyone in management that he was having trouble.
By the time the hearing officer wrote this, she knew that the training situation at the financial services company included a continuous stream of information between trainer and students. Why would a trainee go to the trainer who scores the quizzes and say
I made a low score on that quiz when the trainer has already seen that low score? None of this was a secret. The hearing officer's assertion about the hands-on training is even weaker. As she wrote that, she had already seen my description of the
whiteboard where each trainee's ranking was published for the entire team to see. I was transferred to the hands-on training process by managers because they knew I was having trouble. Not only did managers know how I was doing, so did anyone who walked by our
pod and the whiteboard where names and status were posted.
The officer complains that I "did not communicate" with AppleOne management. But the people at AppleOne were the ones who created the situation. They were making good money (~$2,846) from my presence at their client's location.
The hearing officer is hinting. Her overarching statement is "you should have spoken up." (She's also trying really hard to ignore the fraudulent job offer that caused all this.)
OK, let's roll with that:
What was the first utterance that got this entire episode started? Answer: My resume on Dice.com, a tech-sector job board. Every employer who goes to Dice.com knows the resumes there are technology-sector people. When that employer reads the resume, they see it's a tech-sector professional. When AppleOne read my resume, they could see that I was a tech. When they called me about an
Owasso tech job they knew I was a tech, because I had clearly spoken of that in my resume. When AppleOne asked me to quickly sign a stack of documents that made me their employee, and gave them control of my unemployment insurance, they knew that I was a tech, because I had clearly spoken of that.
Jump forward to my resignation letter, when I brought up the topic of AppleOne "hiring" me by dangling a "tech job" in front of me. That letter was an emphatic second utterance, and they responded in a vicious manner; verbally mocking me and stripping me of my entire financial safety net.
Even more offensive to anyone who wants state employees to be ethical, the hearing officer declines to mention that, at the temp agency's client site, I was in the bizarre situation of knowing that a fraudulent job offer was the only thing that resulted in me being in that environment. This cast a surreal light over every event there.
Strangely funny bit:
Years ago, while at my first tech job, there was a day when I had dropped off my car for repair, then got a ride to work. When the mechanic called me during the day, I had no ride to the shop. The shop itself had no pickup service. So I called a cab. The talkative male driver had a Russian accent. As we arrived at the shop, he asked me: "Do you want a receipt?" Sure, I said. He reached into the console and handled something, then he offered me a piece of colored paper folded over. Just the right size to fit my pocket, so I dropped it in. That evening, I found the receipt and looked it over. It was blank. He gave me exactly what he said he would; a receipt. He just didn't write anything on it.
That's what AppleOne did: They invited me to their offices to talk about my upcoming tech job there. They just did not have any clients offering a tech job. Oh, and they made sure I signed some papers before I sat down to hear about the tech job. Because, getting me to sign gave their recruiter the opportunity to strip me of my unemployment insurance and prevent me from paying my bills, because that's just a thing that AppleOne does. And TALX made sure that the OESC was super OK with all of this, because it's a thing that TALX does, and the OESC does not serve working Oklahomans.
The actual first step to my being terminated was ...
Here is the hearing officer's capstone:
The claimant believed that the additional training was the first step to being terminated, and, having seen others be terminated, did not want to go through that process.
1 - I never said that (read the documentation). The actual first step to my being terminated was when Mason looked at my web developer resume on Dice.com—which specializes in technology workers—and decided to trick me ( PDF | Image ) into becoming an AppleOne employee so that AppleOne could impress its client, which wanted more bill collectors.
2 - Also never said that (read the documentation). I said co-workers at AppleOne and the financial services company had warned me that people deemed
not a good fit were escorted out of the building by security guards as if they were criminals.
Guaranteed to fail
AppleOne knew that I was very unlikely to do well outside my skill set. To use the hearing officer's own language, deceived hires were likely to have
trouble with the work. I allege that AppleOne was essentially setting people up to fail, in the hopes that a few might succeed, and that AppleOne might therefore gain some measure of approval from their clients. They also gained a hefty fee from their client for having sent me over; at least twice what I was paid. Law enforcement people call that
ill-gotten gains. It's money that a company is only able to pocket because they cheated.
Rewarding corrupt employees
I wonder how many of these temp agency cases this particular hearing officer has handled? As a
business friendly OESC employee, she would be a natural go-to for companies like AppleOne and TALX. This hearing officer kept her job after violating core OESC policies and has presumably continued to pull down full salary from Oklahoma taxpayers.
Since Keeney and Mason found my resume on Dice.com, I wonder how many other techs were targeted and captured?
TALX and AppleOne ended up pocketing ~$4,276 from me; $1,430 in unemployment insurance that I had qualified for, plus $2,846; a conservative estimate of how much they made from my work at the client site. I don't know how they split it; I don't have those details. (I am curious to know if anyone got a bonus of some kind for completing this cash transaction. Anyone at AppleOne, TALX or the OESC, that is.)
The stolen unemployment insurance would have been at least three months of rent in my small apartment. Money that paid for fuel so I could drive to job interviews or to the library to conduct my job search. Barely enough to help pay for groceries and costs of living. Four and one-half months later, I had to leave my apartment and crash with friends and family. I had lived independently for more than 30 years; now I was literally homeless.
Patricia Bryant, part II
‘People to be trusted’
11:04 a.m./Dec. 12, 2016 I wrote a second email to Bryant at AppleOne headquarters in California, reminding her of what happened in Tulsa on her watch and then asking:
Please let me know, through action or inaction, if you are comfortable with this situation going into the new year. Your public statements indicate AppleOne/ACT-1 are organizations with ethics and honor—people to be trusted.
Visitors to this page, ask yourself this: If you owned a business and a customer had a bad experience at one of your stores, would you try to make that right? Would you read their email and at least try to find out what happened?
There was no response.
... the documents I requested and to which Keeney had denied me access ...
August 29, 2017 More than a year later, after making an official request, I got the full hearing documentation from OESC—more than 100 pages. While looking through those items I was surprised to read a written assertion from AppleOne, to the effect that they had decided to cut me off because I had allegedly violated their policy regarding how to turn in a notice of resignation. Mason was listed as the author of this assertion. I wondered if said policy was among the documents I requested and to which Keeney had denied me access?
I also wondered how they could make such an assertion in light of the fact that their original job offer—used to lure me into their offices and to sign up—was a deliberate falsehood. To this day, no on involved has been able to name the client Mason was representing when she invited me to come on down to AppleOne and sign up for an
Owasso tech job. Keeney himself stated there were no tech jobs. How could AppleOne base our entire relationship on a lie, and then presume to talk about day-to-day procedures as being more important?
Last, an item that did not appear in the official declarations from the hearing officer.
At first, I thought it might be a transcript.
This three-page item is named
Oklahoma Employment Security Commission - Discharge/Temporary Agency - rc1519. During the telephone hearing, the hearing officer said this document represented a conversation between
a representative of the commission (OESC) and me. Text in all caps is that way on the OESC form, and apparently is to represent someone at the OESC. Text in italic was on the form and under the all-caps heading, and apparently is supposed to represent what I said in response. Anything in parenthesis was not on the form and is my comment. Images are scanned directly from the OESC packet, or from phone records from my service provider (starting with the sixth question):
WHAT DATE DID YOU CONTACT THE TEMPORARY AGENCY FOR RE-ASSIGNMENT?
(No. I sent an email on June 9, 2016, asking for a job assignment within my skill set as originally agreed.)
WHO DID YOU SPEAK WITH?
B.M. [real name removed]
(Not sure why B.M.'s name would have come up. I did not call her in this time frame, but she called me on the morning of June 9 to demand the name of a financial services company manager who once briefly spoke to me at a meeting about the financial services company's relationship with temp agencies. B.M. was a liaison between AppleOne and the client. Temps dropped off their time sheets at her cubicle, and she occasionally circulated emails about changes in rules or procedures. She did not appear to be involved in what Mason and AppleOne's management were doing.)
JOB TITLE OF THIS INDIVIDUAL?
WHAT WERE YOU TOLD?
She did an exit interview
(No one at AppleOne or any other company at this time ever did an
exit interview with me, or anything similar. This
exit interview topic never came up during my interactions with AppleOne.)
IS THE DATE OF CONTACT IN KEEPING WITH THE HIRING AGREEMENT?
(Not sure what
date of contact means. Plus, no part of this question ever came up during any of my communication with AppleOne or anyone else I had contact with during this time frame. This 'Yes' is actually a radio button like you might see on a web page:)
WHAT IS THE POLICY ACCORDING TO YOUR HIRING AGREEMENT WHEN AN ASSIGNMENT ENDS?
Contact in a timely manner
(Also did not come up at any time in my contact with AppleOne. In fact, the phrase looks like jargon that a recruiter might use in internal documents or reports. )
IS THE TEMPORARY AGENCY ATTEMPTING TO REFER YOU ON ASSIGNMENTS?
I think so
(No; they mocked me when I asked for a normal business relationship. And that was the last I heard from them. This supposed OESC question is inserted in the area for my replies, then restated normally below.)
I contacted AppleOne again on 061616 about keeping on at AppleOne, I spoke to someone named Karen who said there wasn't anything available right now.
( I never met a
Karen at AppleOne or the client site. If the person who typed this means Taryn Mason, the last time I heard her voice was when I showed up at AppleOne's offices on March 17, 2016, having been told in writing that I was there for an
Owasso tech job.)
Even worse for TALX/AppleOne/OESC is how the phrase "someone named Karen" relates to the date in the top right corner of rc1519; 06/21/16 (June 21, 2016). That is 96 days after AppleOne's Taryn Mason contact me on March 17, spelled out her first name, sent me emails that showed her name spelling, and then went on to behave in a way that burned her name into my memory. Via this document, the OESC is pitching the idea that I did not know the name of the person who roped me into the (alleged) AppleOne scam—
Owasso tech job.
- 8:03 a.m.; 7 minutes; to the OESC in Oklahoma City (not AppleOne).
- 10:11 a.m. 10 minutes; incoming from a family member (not AppleOne).
- 3:35 p.m.; 2 minutes; to customer service at credit union (not AppleOne).
- 4:33 p.m.; 4 minutes; tech support for antivirus software (not AppleOne).
DID YOU FOLLOW THE POLICY?
Yes (radio button)
IS THE TEMPORARY AGENCY ATTEMPTING TO REFER YOU ON ASSIGNMENT?
Yes (radio button)
(No. I asked them for a normal relationship and they mocked me on their own letterhead.)
First, the date June 21, 2016 (a Tuesday) on this items places it about 1 1/2 weeks after AppleOne's email meltdown in response to my request for a normal relationship. During this time, I was fishing around for anyone who might answer my questions. June 21 is about two weeks before I called from the OESC
Skyline location and finally got someone on the phone to answer some of those questions.
Now, look at the document that purports to represent the June 21, 2016, call. Who benefits from that? Bear in mind, this document was ignored by the OESC hearing officer; it did not have any bearing on whether or not I prevailed in the appeal hearing.
In other words, I am not trying to discount the document because it may have led to a negative hearing outcome. But, I am calling attention to the document because the simple fact of an altered document being preserved in the state's official record illustrates A) The degree to which AppleOne/TALX were motivated to intimidate Oklahoma working people, and B) A disinterest in the rule of law among OESC leadership.
I ask again: When you read that document, who would benefit from the altered conversation? Here are the questions as plain text...
1. WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE TEMPORARY AGENCY? Apple One 9188770506 2. WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE EMPLOYER ON YOUR LAST ASSIGNMENT? [financial services company] 3. WHAT IS THE LAST DAY YOU WORKED? 060716 4. WHY ARE YOU NO LONGER WORKING AT YOUR LAST ASSIGNMENT? I resigned from [financial services company] 5. DID YOU CONTACT THE TEMPORARY AGENCY FOR REASSIGNMENT? Yes (radio button) 6. WHAT DATE DID YOU CONTACT THE TEMPORARY AGENCY FOR RE-ASSIGNMENT? 060816 7. WHO DID YOU SPEAK WITH? B.M. [real name removed] 8. JOB TITLE OF THIS INDIVIDUAL? Recruiter 9. WHAT WERE YOU TOLD? She did an exit interview 10. IS THE DATE OF CONTACT IN KEEPING WITH THE HIRING AGREEMENT? Yes (radio button) 11. WHAT IS THE POLICY ACCORDING TO YOUR HIRING AGREEMENT WHEN AN ASSIGNMENT ENDS? Contact in a timely manner IS THE TEMPORARY AGENCY ATTEMPTING TO REFER YOU ON ASSIGNMENTS? I think so I contacted AppleOne again on 061616 about keeping on at AppleOne, I spoke to someone named Karen who said there wasn't anything available right now. 12. DID YOU FOLLOW THE POLICY? Yes (radio button) 13. IS THE TEMPORARY AGENCY ATTEMPTING TO REFER YOU ON ASSIGNMENT? Yes (radio button)
If I had to guess, I would say this text is designed to give the appearance of an orderly and correct procedure. The only persons at the Tulsa AppleOne office who might have been worried about appearing to be professional were Mason (the recruiter) and Bryan (the branch manager). They might have wanted upper-level managers at AppleOne to read this. If so, that would mean the illegal alteration is mostly damage control on the part of local corporate staff.
It also contains errors, in addition to the concocted statements listed above. Examples:
1. WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE TEMPORARY AGENCY? Apple One 9188770506
AppleOne spells their name without the space. And what's with the phone number? If I were actually being interviewed, I would not have tossed that in.
3. WHAT IS THE LAST DAY YOU WORKED? 060716
Wrong date. The last day I worked was 060816 (June 8, 2016).
11. WHAT IS THE POLICY ACCORDING TO YOUR HIRING AGREEMENT WHEN AN ASSIGNMENT ENDS? Contact in a timely manner IS THE TEMPORARY AGENCY ATTEMPTING TO REFER YOU ON ASSIGNMENTS? I think so I contacted AppleOne again on 061616 about keeping on at AppleOne, I spoke to someone named Karen who said there wasn't anything available right now.
This one is intriguing. Notice how someone jammed extra text into the space reserved for a single answer, #11? It's more obvious in the direct scan:
There's only one scenario I can think of that explains a document that serves AppleOne but contains a number of obvious errors: Someone representing AppleOne contacted an OESC employee and pleaded with them to make these alterations. Done in haste, the errors are predictable.
Placing an altered/forged document in the official record is often a felony, even if the person doing the placing is a state employee. Here is a downloadable copy of the document: DOWNLOAD PDF rc1519.
There are several possible ways the June 21, 2016, call record was altered:
- The OESC employee decided of his/her own accord to re-write the record.
- An OESC manager directed the record to be altered.
- Someone from TALX asked that the record be altered?
- An AppleOne representative asked that the altered version be installed?
- Someone from TALX was given physical access and altered the record? (Highly unlikely)
- Someone from AppleOne was given physical access and altered the record? (Also unlikely)
The only people who know the truth—and are easily accessible to law enforcement—are within the OESC.
This was clearly coordinated between AppleOne, TALX and the OESC. It took systematic effort to be effective. AppleOne's regional and local management had to approve procedures and expense reports to allow this to happen. Think about that, and the likelihood that many job seekers have been targeted in the same way. These organizations would have had no reason to behave this way toward one and only one person.
Also note that the OESC hearing officer is a practicing attorney who knows exactly what qualifies as fraud. No experienced attorney could look at how I was tricked into signing up with AppleOne and not recognize illicit enterprise. Just after resigning, I pointed out to AppleOne that they had set up a
power relationship with me in which they held all the power. The outcome of these events is evidence of that power.
Why is this important?
The phony call transcript is important because it's evidence of additional criminal intent. The first sign of criminal intent was AppleOne's call and emails offering an
Owasso Tech Job. With the introduction of rc1519 into the official record, a second person has demonstrated criminal intent, except this person is a state employee; someone at the OESC. Document rc1519 increases the scope of illegal activity affiliated with the (alleged) employment scam.
I am fairly certain the OESC computer network requires authorization to log in. Most networks do. That means their managers could open up rc1519 and narrow the list to each user who has accessed the document, including the document creator. So far, they have either refused to do so, or have done so and concealed the results.
Many, many victims
There is one possibility as to why the temp agency and the OESC went to so much trouble to drop a hammer on one person. If this type of thing has happened to hundreds of other working Oklahomans, then AppleOne and the state government do have a motive to intimidate someone who is vocal.
Closing or concealing?
From 2018 to 2019, I began distributing an evidence packet to law enforcement in California (where AppleOne is headquartered) and Oklahoma. This may have come to the attention of the rich kids who own AppleOne. In early October of 2019, I got word that the Tulsa AppleOne office that allegedly ran the
Owasso tech job scam may have been shut down. Remember, this is a profitable operation, reportedly making as much as $400,000 yearly with about six employees. If it has in fact been closed, why? Could corporate records be destroyed as part of a closing? Could they have destroyed evidence? The Tulsa office has also been removed from the locations list on the official AppleOne website.
Photo from AppleOne Tulsa location:
It gets weirder. Bill Bryan, who lists himself online as AppleOne branch manager during the
Owasso tech job operation, now also lists himself as a manager for Force Personnel ( AppleOne/Force Personnel same manager - PDF ), whose logo is recently on the front door of the Tulsa location formerly inhabited by AppleOne.
Direct managers irrelevant?
In November of 2019, Deborah Goodwin, director of the OESC Appellate Division, sent me an email about the hearing officer's behavior:
Witnesses and evidence should be relevant and otherwise would not denied by the Hearing Officer.
This statement ignores the audio recording.
But, in the same email, Goodwin hinted that there was a solution at hand!
11:40 a.m./November 14, 2019
Claimants who are aggrieved by ruling of a Hearing Officer on presentation of evidence may appeal the final decision to the Board of Review.
Board of what?
That sounds familiar
I wondered if Goodwin's hint about the Board taking corrective action was honest. It seemed to me that too much time had passed. So, I went back to the stack of material sent to me before the appeal hearing and found
STEPS FOR PREPARING FOR YOUR HEARING, which contains ...
The claimant, employer, or Commission may appeal any decision to the Board of Review. Your appeal to the Board of Review should be mailed directly to the Board within 10 calendar days of the mailing date of the Appeal Tribunal decision.
But that was more than a year ago, so the email statement regarding the Board of Review was deliberately misleading.
STEPS FOR PREPARING... makes this wildly optimistic assertion:
The Oklahoma Employment Security Act provides for a fair and impartial hearing to all parties affected by Commission Determinations as required by the Social Security Act. All stages of the Appeal Tribunal appeal process are governed by the canons of The Model Code of Judicial Conduct for State Unemployment Insurance Appeals Officers, established by the National Association of Unemployment Insurance Appellate Boards. OAC 240:10-13-9.
Is it possible that the hearing officer had never heard of The Model Code of Judicial Conduct for State Unemployment Insurance Appeals Officers? Was ignorance of the law what caused her to block my documentation and witnesses without giving a reason?
How determined was the OESC to see that AppleOne and others like them maintain an iron grip on temp workers?
Sidenote: Listening to people argue makes my skin crawl. So, why publish this article? Because the people on the other side go to so much time and trouble to drag Oklahoma workers into their machinery. As a means of stealing money, the
Owasso tech job scam and affiliated cooperation with the OESC were successful. However, as a means of intimidation, it backfired. My hope in placing this in public view is that AppleOne and TALX will be denied full enjoyment of having and spending the stolen money. Only in a perfect world would Oklahoma law enforcement command them to pay restitution.
There are many ways in which AppleOne upper management signified being OK with events in 2016 in Tulsa. But the most important indicator on the list is keeping the money. They not only kept the $4,276 stolen from me, they also kept the thousands of dollars taken from other people offered a
tech job. Rich people at AppleOne kept that money—they got paid.
The all-seeing, all-knowing board
From a state document:
The members of the Board will listen to the recording of the hearing and consider any exhibits that the Appeal Tribunal Hearing Officer admitted into the record. The Board of Review is the last step of the appeal process within the OESC.
Note that the board will not consider anything the OESC said were basic rights but the hearing officer blocked.
Why no response?
I at first sent the link to this page to law enforcement and regulatory organizations. Then, this became public in 2019. Not a peep from AppleOne or TALX. Why not? Answering that means thinking from the perspective of a corporation:
- If either company pays any attention to this matter, even to criticize or threaten, that might lend credibility to the evidence I have presented.
- Object lesson for temp workers. This article could discourage anyone in the employ of AppleOne who is thinking about reporting abuse or asserting their rights.
- Inconsistent with secrecy. I have noticed how much of AppleOne's strategy seems driven by an obsession with secrecy. Responding to this article would violate such a policy.
- Public silence creates time to remove evidence. As previously mentioned, the AppleOne location where this allegedly occurred was recently shut down, although many staff there at the time of the
Owasso tech jobpublicly state that they remain employed by AppleOne. A shutdown is a great opportunity to wipe hard drives and destroy incriminating records.
- Got the money! The scam was a success; an estimated $80,000 in profits. Acknowledging what happened might lead to having to return the stolen money.
In multiple ways, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission has endorsed the alleged
Owasso Tech Job scam:
- By forwarding the myth that the fraudulent job offer from AppleOne does not exist ( PDF | Image ),
- By rewarding at least one hearing officer for violating OESC procedures,
- By declining to take corrective action regarding the willful violation of published OESC procedures/policies by the hearing officer,
- By remaining silent about the altered
rc1519conversation (falsifying an official document is a criminal act in Oklahoma; usually a felony),
- And by hindering my efforts to contact the state employee who helped me realize I had been scammed by AppleOne and TALX.
Before I close out this section, I want to address the idea that the OESC action was a
- During the summer of 2016, I carefully read the OESC's published statements on preparing for an appeal hearing.
- Studied the requirements for calling witnesses (OESC:
A witness should be a person with first-hand knowledge of the situation, someone who was present and saw or heard what happened.My witnesses were direct managers and a person who attempted to train me for the job.)
- I spent weeks carefully reading instructions on how to prepare documents for the appeal hearing officer.
- I researched relevant legal principles and terminology, and other people's experiences with UI appeals.
- Those professional documents were presented to the State of Oklahoma (OESC, Board of Review, et al).
- AppleOne sent Kathy O'Leary of TALX to contact the OESC Appeallate Division.
- The OESC and TALX have a long-standing relationship, going back at least to 2012 (perhaps earlier).
- As soon as the hearing began, the hearing officer immediately denied my right to call witnesses. She declined to explain her authority to set aside OESC published policy.
- As soon as the hearing began, the hearing officer also set aside my documentation, and instead entered three items she selected.
- During the hearing, the hearing officer made attempts to talk me out of pursuing events and documents.
- During the hearing, the hearing officer became argumentative when I pointed out the forged nature of document
- the hearing officer's written decision is revealing. She literally used the hearing she aggressively reshaped to rewrite the history of my relationship with AppleOne. Her narrative supports the OESC's relationship with employers. transcript - (new tab/window)
The image above is from Goodwin's Nov. 14, 2019, email hinting that the Board of Review might yet offer some remedy to the 2016 hearing fiasco. She attached an official document as a reference, and I happened to notice the text revealing the hearing officer's job title. Not just
hearing officer but
Chief Hearing Officer. The OESC is holding up what happened to me—and probably to many others—as a model of how an Oklahoma hearing officer should behave.
The attorney who told me the State of Oklahoma takes a
business friendly approach in these matters was correct. This was deliberate.
And all of this because I trusted AppleOne when they called on March 16, 2016, and offered me an
Owasso tech job.
FINAL - FINAL
Years before, I had one previous experience with a temp agency. They were called ADIA. They arranged three temp jobs in alignment with my skills, each went smoothly, and one of those—at Sprint—turned into full-time. No drama. AppleOne, do you see? It's not so difficult to run your business in an ethical manner.
Identification: Persons in this article are identified here via three methods:
- Official government documents from the OESC.
- My testimony and documentation to which none of the other parties has thus far objected.
- Items published on the internet, presumably by the persons themselves or their agents.
- The author of this article has vetted this article by an attorney to comply with applicable laws.
‘Stolen’ means acquired, or possessed, as a result of some wrongful or dishonest act or taking, whereby a person willfully obtains or retains possession of property which belongs to another, without or beyond any permission given, and with the intent to deprive the owner of the benefit of ownership."[United States v. Hollinshead, 495 F.2d 1154, 1156 (9th Cir. Cal. 1974)]—https://definitions.uslegal.com/
Non-disclosure language in emails
Some of the original emails may contain confidentiality or non-disclosure language. The law is clear that such language cannot be used to conceal illegal activity.
Information pertaining to the scope (number of known victims) of this issue is not included in this public narrative and is only in the version submitted to law enforcement.
I have tried to rely on official or reliable sources. Obviously, there are places in this narrative where I expressed a response to the content of those sources.
Full internet headers; for technicians who want to do an analysis:
Original email and mocking response from AppleOne (PDF)
rc1519 document in the official record:
Download hi-res PDF (11MB)
Types of forgery and Oklahoma law (James M. Wirth)
OESC official statement(s) on appeal hearings and decisions: Appeals for individuals (new tab/window) and also inside the following item ... OESC official statement on UI claim stats; also describes OESC policy regarding witnesses: (new tab/window) You may notice that page is only available at an internet archive. The original was removed from public view.
Hearing transcript, prepared by an online company. If you read this web page first, and read the transcript second, you will notice that I assumed during the hearing that the officer was "doing the right thing." With the wisdom of hindsight, I now realize that was catastrophically untrue. I should have fought like hell during the hearing. But I defaulted to my upbringing as the son of a Methodist minister. A minister's son will not assume that a state employee is acting on behalf of (alleged) criminals. So, the State of Oklahoma cheerfully kicked me in the head on behalf of AppleOne and TALX.
Temp industry info:
The staffing industry in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts | Statista
Retaliation - details at EEOC
Retaliation against employees - EEOC
Law enforcement in receipt of this information
• Tulsa County District Attorney
Michael Shouse, assistant DA
Tulsa County Courthouse
500 South Denver Avenue, Suite 900
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103
Link (new tab/window)
• Oklahoma Attorney General
313 NE 21st Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Link (new tab/window)
Possible corporate exemption from Oklahoma Attorney General (and, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission granted police powers:)
Per the Attorney General's suggestion, I directed an inquiry on June 15, 2020, to the OESC about their new investigation. There was no reply. Download PDF
• Los Angeles County District Attorney
600 E Broadway #280
Glendale, CA 91206
Link (new tab/window)
The National Association of Unemployment Insurance Appellate Boards (new tab/window) supposedly provides ethical guidance for organizations like the OESC.
About paying an attorney... At my first tech job 1999-2005, my yearly salary was $49,000. That was very close to market value. Unfortunately, I was past the age of 40 when I re-entered the job market in 2005. If you have ever walked around a technology firm or I.T. department, you may have noticed they don't want to hire people of color, women, or anyone older than 40. Tech shops are usually white, male and 20-something. Maybe 30-something. In the past 15 years, that practice has translated into a steady reduction of my salary. Think about it: If companies base their evaluation of candidates on age rather than qualifications, then more age means less pay. So, my general yearly salary is now less than a third of that first job. I am within about $3,000 of the federal poverty level.
[* I spent a lot of time trying to secure the official record of my July 2016 conversation with the male OESC employee. Bear in mind, the agency logs all public contact on their computer system. They also keep records of who is employed there during certain time spans. And, their phone system automatically logs calls by date, time, and phone number. I made an official request on June 15, 2019, for the record. The email response arrived Sept. 16, 2019. Excerpt:
Since the Skyline office does not exist anymore and the telephone system used by that office has been replaced, there is no way to determine the number of the telephone extension you were using to make the call. I invite anyone reading this to do the math. The OESC Skyline office in Tulsa was a busy place. They maintained an extension for the use of anyone doing a job search. Job seekers could call potential employers or call people for training, career networking, etc. Let's assume the phone was only made available to 10 people per day, and that each person only made one outbound call, and let's assume there are about 260 working days in a year. That's 2,600 calls in a single year. There were plenty of opportunities to match me to the one OESC employee I dealt with during this time frame who was honest. ]
Headquarters for AppleOne AKA "Howroyd-Wright Employment Agency, Inc"
Two PDF files: U.S. government vs. TALX
Web page: U.S. government vs. TALX
...an SEC investigation resulting in a fine of $2,500,000 (simultaneous civil action) and
an investigation by the New York Times titled "Contesting unemployment claims big business"
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
A recent New York Times article describes TALX as undermining the crucial safety net that unemployment benefits represent for the millions of unemployed workers because of the aggressive and questionable tactics it uses on behalf of employers to fight unemployment benefit claims. TALX reportedly handles more than 30 percent of the nation’s requests for unemployment benefits. CREW seeks to learn the extent to which the Labor Department is aware of TALX's actions and has taken any action in response.
Unpunished Criminals: The Social Acceptability of White Collar Crimes in America