Carson wrote back the next day, saying an investigation would be opened. On the 17th of September, Schacht wrote Carson saying that nothing had changed and pleaded, "Please instruct her [Carpenter] to allow me to work in a dignified atmosphere and to immediately cease her violation of UCSD's Principles of Community."
Dr. Carson did not answer an e-mail seeking comment for this story.
Schacht said after her second e-mail to Carson, "The people from HR came up and said, 'Could you come down and talk to us?' So I went down. And they said, 'We were trying to get in touch with you, but your phone wasn't working.' " (Schacht disputes this, contending that her phone was working properly all during this period.) "So they talked to her, and for about a week she cowered in her office and didn't come near me. But then she came back, with a vengeance."
Dave Simonson, a manager at the cancer center's human resources department, didn't return calls seeking comment.
From September 2006 until February 2007, Schacht says she suffered through Carpenter's abuse but kept a log to document every occurrence. On February 20, 2007, in an e-mail to Chris Hertzog, chief steward of the San Diego branch of the Coalition of University Employees labor union, she declared her intention to file a grievance against Carpenter and spelled out Carpenter's offenses by date and category.
Under the heading "violence," she included: "1/18/07: threw telephone message book at my key pad with such force that it displaced everything on the desk. 1/23/07; punched my chair from behind hard enough to pitch me forward.... 2/7/07: pulled stacks of very heavy binder and journals from storage cabinets and threw them on my desk, nearly breaking a Lucite organizer I bought for myself."
Under "verbal abuse," Schacht noted: "1/19/07: Verbal abuse was so paralyzing that I had to go to another office to get my work done. Sometimes I'm so dazed that I just go sit in my car for a while. 1/29/07: 'You're so stupid...!' 2/7/07: 'You get more ridiculous by the day.' 2/8/07: 'Your work is just shitty.' "
The same day Schacht wrote this e-mail to Hertzog, she also called campus police, who suggested she get a temporary restraining order against Carpenter, which she did.
Reached by phone, Hertzog, the union steward, says he's never seen workplace bullying at this level. "Paula's case is extraordinary. I have never seen that kind of abuse in the office. Paula is a very tough woman because typically when the abuse reaches that kind of level, most employees leave. Reneé is tough as well. Reneé never came to us when she was going through those problems."
Though he says labor relations with the university's medical center are "very healthy," Hertzog complains that labor relations with the main campus's Department of Medicine, which includes the Moores Cancer Center, are much more difficult. "With the medical center labor department," he explains, "we're almost always able to resolve our disputes without having to go very high in the grievance department. But on the main campus, we typically have to appeal things to the office of the president."
As an example of the difficulty of resolving labor grievances with the Department of Medicine, Hertzog offers, "In the grievance process, the first step involves a meeting with the immediate supervisor. We have contract language to that effect. I requested a meeting with Dr. Kipps at the time, and he wasn't present for the meeting. When I asked the labor relations advocate why he was not there, she just shrugged her shoulders. I filed a grievance on that because it's a really serious infraction, as far as I'm concerned. It completely undermines the language of the grievance process and the contract which says the object is to resolve grievances at the lowest possible levels."
Hertzog continues, "We believe that in the whole school of medicine there is kind of a culture of, I call it willful neglect. I think a lot of people know this kind of thing happens, but they turn a shoulder to it. There is another employee who is currently out on a psychological stress leave, and she works for a very distinguished professor [at the] medical school. Apparently this guy brings all kinds of money to the Department of Medicine. And yet he is absolutely abusive. He worked this woman overtime without [her] getting paid [for it]. He kind of bullied her into thinking that she had to put in ten-hour days."
Despite over 20 grievances he's filed against her on behalf of Paula Schacht, Hertzog says Carpenter hasn't served a day of suspension, much less been terminated under the university's Zero Tolerance Policy. By contrast, he says, "I was suspended for two weeks last year because I was representing an employee at a grievance hearing and I yelled at a supervisor. I was, at that time, an 11-year employee with a perfect record, and I was suspended for two weeks, just for that single incident."
Neither Mary Carpenter nor Dr. Kipps answered e-mails seeking comment on these matters.