SEC: Employee Guideliness

Sammy Nikols filed this request with the Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States of America.
Tracking #

18-00702-FOIA

Due July 11, 2018
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Sammy Nikols

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request

This letter constitutes a request under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (“FOIA”) for all records that were prepared, received, transmitted, collected and/or maintained by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“records”) relating to the list outlined below.

I am an individual seeking information for personal, non-commercial use. This is a fact-finding inquiry but it doesn’t mean that I have concluded that anyone has broken the law. Furthermore, this inquiry does not purport to provide any opinion or allege any fact about any person or entity with the exception of publicly available and published information cited or referred to in this preamble, the veracity of which should nevertheless be evaluated on its own merit.

I understand that I may not be charged fees for the first two hours of search time, or for the first one hundred pages of duplication. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iv)(II). I am also requesting a fee-waiver. Shall any fees be applicable to this inquiry, kindly please notify me ahead.

The information sought is the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations of a government independent agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is important for the public to know and understand the policies, procedures, rules, and customs in place that address gender discrimination and sexual misconduct by public figure supervisory level attorney employees in a male dominated field that exhibits a wide power imbalance between supervisors and their subordinates. With the agency’s laudable public commitment to be an equal opportunity employer, in its EEO Program Status Report for Fiscal Year 2016 (“FY2016 SEC EEO Report”), it found:

The participation rates of males and females in SEC’s supervisor and management ranks differ within and across the SK-14 to SO levels. Specifically, there are a total of 2,071 permanent SK-14 employees, of whom females represent 44.08% (913 employees) and males represent 55.92% (1,158 employees). However, at the SK-15 level, there are 364 total permanent employees, with males making up 67.31% (245 employees) and females comprising 32.69% (119 employees). There are more than twice as many male SK-15s as female SK-15s. Then, the participation rates of males and females at the SK-17 are more evenly distributed. There are a total of 400 SK-17 employees of whom 59.00% are male (236 employees) and 41.00% are female (164 employees). Finally, within the total of 142 SOs, 62.68% are male (89 employees) and 37.32% are female (53 employees).

https://www.sec.gov/files/sec-eeo-status-report-715-2016.pdf at 14.

In an August 7, 2014 letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission noted that the SEC should evaluate whether “women overall, Hispanic females, and Asian females may be encountering a glass ceiling as they seek promotion to [senior officer] SO positions” or “are bottle-necking at certain grade levels in their occupations.” See Id. at 27. Furthermore, the report has also identified a barrier that “[i]n FY2014, female attorneys, accountants, examiners, and economists received fewer competitive promotions that their male counterparts. Notably, only 36% of applications were from women. Of 83 competitive promotions in the major occupations, females received 27, while males received 56.” Id. at 35. This FOIA request inquiry will shine a greater light on this crucially important topic.

Finally, in addressing this request, I would also like to direct your attention to the January 21, 2009 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies by President Barak Obama, whose subject is “Freedom of Information Act,” and which is published in the federal register. In particular, I wish to direct you to the second paragraph of the memorandum:

The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a
clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.
The Government should not keep information confidential merely
because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure,
because errors and failures might be revealed, or because
of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never
be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of
Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed
to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive
branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit
of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of
the public.
https://www.sec.gov/foia/president-memo-foia-nov2009.pdf at 1.

Thank you and I look forward to receiving your response.

1. All records relating to the organization’s Anti-Retaliation policy for reporting of sexual misconduct and gender discrimination. This includes any additional or supplemental rules, policies, and interpretations of any law, including the interpretation of Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (“No FEAR Act”), P.L. 107-174. If there are changes or multiple versions, all such records for the time span beginning from 2004. Please include the name, title, and contact information for the officer responsible for enforcement of these policies.

2. All records sufficient to identify all instructions, timelines, and procedures on reporting of any kind of sexual misconduct or gender-based discrimination by a Securities and Exchange Commission supervisory level employee to the Securities and Exchange Commission. These should include all records relating to the Conflict2Resolution (“C2R”) program and guidelines by which an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) director may decide to approve or disapprove the use of C2R in a particular case. Please include any instructions about the disclosure of conflict of interest by the director, and mechanisms in place to determine whether a particular disclosure warrants a recusal.

3. All records sufficient to identify all policies, exemptions, exceptions, rules, that in any way amend, supplement, or apply to Mr. David J. Gottesman (“Gottesman”), or any of his SO levels, titles, and roles held throughout his employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Deputy Chief Litigation Counsel and Acting Co-Chief Litigation Counsel for Enforcement Division.

4. All records sufficient to identify all customs formal and informal on breastfeeding, as defined by the United States Office of Personnel Management in its January 2013 Guide for Establishing a Federal Nursing Mother’s Program in all departments that Gottesman worked in during Gottesman’s term of employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission in any capacity, beginning no later than 2004. All written or electronic communications sent through the official Securities and Exchange Commission electronic mail address sent by or received by Gottesman that include the genders of recipients or senders and that include the following non-sensitive words and word combinations:

a. “breast-feeding”
b. “breastfeeding,”
c. “nursing,”
d. “mother,”
e. “mommy,”
f. “mom,”
g. “mamma,”
h. “milf,”
i. “breast milk,”
j. “breast-milk,”
k. “breastmilk,”
l. “pregnant,”
m. “preggo,”
n. “knocked-up,”
o. “uff-da,”
p. “hotdish,”
q. “abortion,”
r. “planned parenthood”

In the event that there are more than a hundred of such responsive electronic communications, please include the number of communications that contain each term per year and whether the sender or recipient’s electronic email address is in the domains of (1) @sec.gov, (2) @finra.org, (3) another government agency @*.gov, or (4) non-government entity.

5. All records sufficient to identify all preventive or corrective opportunities, including apologies, for a “hostile work-environment” as interpreted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If another standard is used, please identify it and provide all records sufficient to identify all preventive or corrective opportunities, including apologies, for a “hostile work-environment” as interpreted by that standard.

6. All records sufficient to identify the dates, titles, role performed, SK and SO levels, and offices held by Gottesman during his employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission, all employee handbooks, policies, or rules that applied to those titles, roles, and offices for those dates.

7. All records sufficient to identify and date any training on gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and any other sexual misconduct Gottesman received during his employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Please specify if any of the trainings were mandatory for Gottesman specifically or at request of someone other than Gottesman. Please include the syllabi for all such programs including Gottesman’s attendance and completion of:

a. Emotional Intelligence and Understanding Your Behavior Style;
b. Leadership Communication;
c. Leadership Presence;
d. Coaching Skills for Leaders; and Dynamics of Teams and Groups

8. All records relating to policies, procedures, and practices of handling any allegation, complaint, or notice of sexual misconduct and gender discrimination against a Securities and Exchange Commission employee that has supervisory authority. These should include all policies and procedures of investigations and record-keeping.

9. All records relating to any allegation, complaint, notice, and investigation, whether formal or informal, of sexual misconduct or gender discrimination against Gottesman during the term of his employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

10. All records pertaining to policies for auditing gender discrimination by supervisors in competitive promotions (“promotions”). If there are changes or multiple versions, all such records for the time span during Gottesman’s employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission and whether any policies have been implemented after, or as a result of plans to eliminate the identified barrier of “glass ceilings” for women as outlined in the FY2016 SEC EEO Report. These should include guidelines, instructions, or table of contents for “selection case files (hiring and promotions),” as outlined in the FY2016 SEC EEO Report.

11. All records sufficient to identify the number of males and females that were promoted by Gottesman during Gottesman’s employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Please include whether these records are kept by the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (“OWMI”).

12. All records sufficient to identify the number of males and females that were terminated by, or on request by, or on the behalf of Gottesman during Gottesman’s employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

13. All records pertaining to policies or rules of review for gender discrimination in terminations. If there are changes or multiple versions, all such records for the time span during Gottesman’s employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

14. All records sufficient to identify the number of years of employment and gender by each person who reported to Gottesman and who received a promotion on request or recommendation of Gottesman. Please identify those that received a promotion more than once and include years of employment before each instance of promotion.

15. For those individuals that reported to Gottesman but never received or accepted a promotion, please provide all records sufficient to identify the gender and number of years each person was employed while reporting to Gottesman.

16. All records sufficient to identify the individual’s gender, date, and annual performance review ranking assed by Gottesman during Gottesman’s employment with supervisory capacities at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

17. All records sufficient to identify the gender and the number of court appearances for all employees that reported to Gottesman by each individual, by year during Gottesman’s employment with supervisory capacities at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Please indicate the number of times Gottesman also made a court appearance along with the individual.

18. All records sufficient to identify the number of female and male attorneys that were assigned as a lead on any case or investigation by Gottesman during Gottesman’s employment with supervisory capacities at the Securities and Exchange Commission. All written or electronic communications made through the official Securities and Exchange Commission electronic mail address sent by or received by Gottesman that (1) include the genders of recipients or senders; (2) are made in reference to any attorney reporting to Gottesman; and (3) that include the words and word combinations:

a. “s/he is a risk,”
b. “s/he is a liability,”
c. “s/he is incompetent,”
d. “s/he is a spoiler,”
e. “s/he is sloppy,”
f. “s/he is emotional,”
g. “s/he is hostile,”
h. “s/he is a loser,”
i. “s/he is creepy,”
j. “s/he is dirty,”
k. “s/he is disgusting,”
l. “s/he is ugly,”
m. “s/he is a liar”

In the event that there are more than a hundred of such responsive electronic communications, please include the number of communications that contain each term per year and whether the sender or recipient’s electronic email address is in the domains of (1)@sec.gov, (2) @finra.org, (3) another government agency @*.gov, or (4) non-government entity.

19. All records sufficient to identify the number of females and male legal interns that worked in Gottesman’s departments during his employment with supervisory capacities at the SEC Securities and Exchange Commission.

20. All records sufficient to identify the number of female and male persons that have been hired by or on behalf of Gottesman during Gottesman’s employment with supervisory capacities at the Securities and Exchange Commission, whether from within (lateral hires) or outside the organization.

21. All records sufficient to identify the number of female and male persons that were not offered a position at Gottesman’s department that applied to work or otherwise would be employed in Gottesman’s department during Gottesman’s employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

22. All records sufficient to identity the number of all female and male outside consultants or service providers, including expert witnesses, that were hired or contracted by, on behalf of, or that conducted any work for any matter worked on by Gottesman during his employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission in any capacity. All records sufficient to identify the number of times each individual has been hired or contracted, the dates for which they performed services, and their total paid compensation for services rendered

23. All records sufficient to identify the number of female and male individuals that received any internal or external letter of recommendation or had a letter written on their behalf by Gottesman during employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission in supervisory capacity.

24. All records sufficient to identify the number of female and male individuals that received any award, accolade, or any other recognition in Gottesman’s department during Gottesman’s employment in supervisory capacity at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

25. All records sufficient to identify all overnight travel by Gottesman on official Securities and Exchange Commission business. Records should identify dates, locations, places of lodging, the number of male and female persons accompanying Gottesman, and the number of times those employees have accompanied Gottesman in these overnight stays.

26. All records sufficient to identify zip codes, dates, number of females and males, and for all overnight travel made by individuals in Gottesman’s department on official Securities and Exchange Commission Business during Gottesman’s employment in supervisory capacity at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Please include all records sufficient to identify the number of overnight trips, the number of nights spent, the gender, the year of trip, of all individuals reporting to Gottesman during Gottesman’s employment in supervisory capacity at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

27. All records sufficient to identify all expenses on alcoholic beverages that Gottesman incurred during any overnight travel on official Securities and Exchange Commission business and whether Gottesman sought reimbursement for such. All written or electronic communications made through the official Securities and Exchange Commission electronic mail address sent by or received by Gottesman that include the genders of recipients or senders and that include the words and word combinations:

a. “drinks,”
b. “beers,”
c. “cocktails,”
d. “alcohol,”
e. “get drunk,”
f. “hammered,”
g. “casino,”
h. “gentlemen’s club,”
i. “exotic dancers,”
j. “strip club,”
k. “strippers”

In the event that there are more than a hundred of such responsive electronic communications, please include the number of communications that contain each term per year and whether the sender or recipient’s electronic email address is in the domains of (1)@sec.gov, (2) @finra.org, (3) another government agency @*.gov, or (4) non-government entity.

28. All records sufficient to identify Gottesman’s attendance at all social gatherings and events organized by or on behalf of Securities and Exchange Commission, such as holiday parties, and whether any alcoholic beverages were served.

If this request is denied in whole or in part, I request that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the FOIA. Please provide all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material. I reserve the right to appeal a decision to withhold any information or to deny a waiver of fees.

Please send all records in electronic format. I look forward to your reply within 20 working days as the FOIA statute requires.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Sammy Nikols

From: Securities and Exchange Commission

From: Securities and Exchange Commission

  • 18-00702-FOIA (28 different types of SEC records, including EEO policies and harassment)

From: Sammy Nikols

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request Update

Dear Mr. Taylor and Staff;

My answers to your letter dated January 2, 2018 are below.

1) I reserve the right to appeal the fee waiver - please notify me in advance of approximate charges as they approach.

2) I would like to bifurcate the request into the following:

a) Two (2) items which should be easily produced are described in item four (4) below;

b) Everything else, please place on the FIFO track as stated. This matter is of importance to the community and should be expedited most accordingly.

3) I reserve the right to re-submit and amend the request as information arises.

4) Firstly requested information:

1. (Previous Item 6 in my original request) All records sufficient to identify the dates, titles, role performed, SK and SO levels, and offices held by "Gottesman" during his employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission, all employee handbooks, policies, or rules that applied to those titles, roles, and offices for those dates.

2. (Part of Previous Item 7)

Please provide the syllabi for the following leadership programs implemented at the Securities and Exchange Commission:

a. Emotional Intelligence and Understanding Your Behavior Style;
b. Leadership Communication;
c. Leadership Presence;
d. Coaching Skills for Leaders; and Dynamics of Teams and Groups

I look forward to your reply.

Thank you.

Cordially,

Sammy Nikols

From: Sammy Nikols

Hello,

I am following up on my original request from 12/26/2017 and the follow ups that were sent on 01/16/2018.

It has been well over the 20 day period as stipulated by law.

Kindly advise on the status.

Thank you.

Cordially,

Sammy Nikols

From: Sammy Nikols

Dear Staff,

I am following up on my request as it has been past the allotted time for answers as dictated by FOIA.

Please advise.

Sammy Nikols

From: Muckrock Staff

Hello,

The communications copied below - initially sent on January 16, February 19, March 21, and March 28 - were directed to rollinsc@sec.gov. Could you please confirm that they've been received?

Thank you.

From: Securities and Exchange Commission

Mr. Nikols

By letter dated January 2, 2018, we provide you with a letter informing you that we would have to search for responsive records would require us to consult with several different offices throughout the SEC and the potential amount of records (and their review) may be voluminous, and would require us to process them in our First-in,
First-out (FIFO) track. We also gave you until January 16, 2018 to let us know if you were interested in having us place your request in our FIFO Queue, and we never received a response. Therefore, your request was closed out.

Thank you

Carl S. Rollins, Jr.
Research Specialist
Office of Support Operations, FOIA Office
US Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549-2743
202-551-8329
rollinsc@sec.gov

From: Securities and Exchange Commission

Rollins, Carl would like to recall the message, "Freedom of Information Act Request #18-00702-FOIA".

From: Securities and Exchange Commission

Please disregard this e-mail.

From: Muckrock Staff

Hi there,

Here is the email sent on January 16, 2018 in its raw format. In this email, he clarifies his requests and asks that part of it be placed on the FIFO track. Could you please clarify the current state of its processing?

Thanks so much for your help.

From: Securities and Exchange Commission

Good afternoon Mr. Nikols,

Initially, we would like to apologize for the lack of response to your FOIA request dated December 26, 2017, and received in this office on December 27, 2017. By letter dated January 2, 2018, we explained that your request, as submitted, would require processing in our complex First in-First Out (FIFO) processing queue. We invited you to narrow the scope of your request and asked that you respond by January 16, 2018. We failed to identify your response to our January 2, 2018 and we administratively closed your request.

We will re-open your request and begin processing your narrowed scope for:

1. (Previous Item 6 in my original request) All records sufficient to identify the dates, titles, role performed, SK and SO levels, and offices held by "Gottesman" during his employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission, all employee handbooks, policies, or rules that applied to those titles, roles, and offices for those dates.

2. (Part of Previous Item 7) Please provide the syllabi for the following leadership programs implemented at the Securities and Exchange Commission:
a. Emotional Intelligence and Understanding Your Behavior Style;
b. Leadership Communication;
c. Leadership Presence;
d. Coaching Skills for Leaders; and Dynamics of Teams and Groups

We will place the remainder of your request in our FIFO queue upon completion of your narrowed request. Otherwise, your entire request will need to be placed in our FIFO queue as of January 16, 2018, if you are still interested in receiving the records. Again, we apologize for the delay in processing your request. In the interim, if you have any questions, please contact me. Thank you.

Aaron Taylor
Supervisory Research Specialist
Office of FOIA Services
US Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549-2736
202-551-8318

From: Sammy Nikols

Good day Mr. Taylor,

Thank you for getting to the bottom of this request.

Yes, kindly, please process and send along information from the narrowed scope. The remainder of the request, please place in the FIFO queue and if possible, please update me as to when this information will become available. This matter is of importance to the community and should be expedited most accordingly. This information is critical for public knowledge at the current stages in the work environment and what disciplinary tactics are used by government agencies.

Thank you.

Cordially,

Sammy Nikols

From: Sammy Nikols

Dear Mr. Taylor and Staff,

As it has been some time now, I would like to follow up on the narrowed scope of the requested records and these which you have agreed to prepare for first-hand.

Once again, these are:

1. (Previous Item 6 in my original request) All records sufficient to identify the dates, titles, role performed, SK and SO levels, and offices held by "Gottesman" during his employment at the Securities and Exchange Commission, all employee handbooks, policies, or rules that applied to those titles, roles, and offices for those dates.

2. (Part of Previous Item 7) Please provide the syllabi for the following leadership programs implemented at the Securities and Exchange Commission:

a. Emotional Intelligence and Understanding Your Behavior Style;
b. Leadership Communication;
c. Leadership Presence;
d. Coaching Skills for Leaders; and Dynamics of Teams and Groups

Please advise on the status of the above, as it has been nearly four months since our last conversation. In order of importance, #1 above has highest priority in reference to the "Gottesman" records.

Thank you.

Cordially,

Sammy Nikols

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