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Employee: Joseph Tokarz Position: Haba Buyer

Dated 1 / 22 / 2011

Response to Stage 2 Written Warning served on 3/10/09 It's going on two years since I was given this warning regarding an incident that took place between Rosie, Josh, and myself. I was told at the time of the warning that I could give a written response. Recently, while reading, I came across this statement, "If you do not define yourself, then others will attempt to define you" This motivated me to finally submit my response. I have given much thought about what occured here and would first like to share my memory of what occured (which I put 99% to pen at the time of my warning, and later added a few after-thoughts), and second, respond to the events that transpired following the incident. I am also responding to some of the wording presented in my written warning. Also included are prior incidents, which I describe, and which I believe show a pattern of unfair disciplinary actions taken against me. The incident that prompted this response was the written warning given to me concerning the telling of a sexual joke. This is my memory of the incident, which occurred on aisle #4, around the beginning of March 2009 , involving myself, Josh, and Rosie. On that day, Rosie was setting a place for the women's hygiene products, and Josh and I had taken a moment to observe her progress. Since the reset involved products such as tampons and personal lubricants, I decided to tell my standard joke, which I have told over the years and has resulted in many a laugh. It goes like this, " I'm surprised that no one has come out with a personal lubricant product called Lubricunt". We all laughed, and then Josh said that he had a joke that he had heard the comedian Sarah Silverman tell. He asked if we knew of her. I replied that I did not know who she was and Rosie said that she knew of her. Josh said that the joke was kind of raunchy and asked if we still wanted to hear it. Rosie said OK and I said sure let's hear it. It went like this, "My boyfriend and I practice birth control. He just sprays it all over my face". We all had a good laugh, talked a little more, and then went back to our work. That was the end of the conversation and there was no indication, then, or in the following days that Rosie had been offended by the jokes. And given the fact that Josh had asked if we wanted to hear his joke after warning us it was raunchy, and Rosie said she did, one would never guess that she was feeling offended by the nature of the jokes being shared. It wasn't until the following week, after talking with Elaine Deckleman, that Rosie came to me and asked to talk to me outside by the cardboard dumpster. She said that she had been offended by my joke and that she had talked to Elaine Deckleman about the matter. I told her that I could see how she could feel offended, but that I never intended to hurt her feelings, which is quite different in where it says in my written warning that I told her that, "she was wrong to feel uncomfortable". That doesn't even make sense. How could anyone be wrong for feeling uncomfortable. It's not the sort of thing that I would say or think, and I did not say that. What I did say is that humor is such a gray area, that what is offensive to one person may not be so to another. And since she was fairly new to our department, no one really knew for certain what her boundaries were or what was offensive to her. I told her that I would refrain from telling her any more jokes and that because we don't know where each other's boundaries are, perhaps we could allow for a little more tolerance until we do. Here I must say, that over the years, I have been told many a sexual joke, from both male and female employees. And I have never felt offended or felt the need to have disciplinary action taken against any of them. I told Rosie that I could understand how she felt, (and my exact words were) " but if it were me, I wouldn't go to war over something like this." The term, war, here was used in reference to

"writing someone up", which I consider a rather heavy duty response for situations where there is no intended harm. My statement was quite different from what was recalled by Rosie and inserted in my written warning, where she says, I {warned her, "not to go to war with him"}. Him being me. One thing that I find interesting, unbalanced, and unfair, is that I was singled out, by Rosie, and Elaine, to be talked to, and informed that Rosie was going to give me a written warning. In fact, it wasn't until later that Josh was given a written warning. And when he was, Josh informed me that he was told by Elaine that he was being written up "just so it was on the record". It was clear to me then, and now, that I was the main target for disciplinary action, and it's my belief that Josh wasn't that much of a concern and was being written up just so I wasn't the only one to have been written up, for the record. As far as I know, Josh was never talked to by Rosie. And if he was, it wasn't until sometime later, after I was approached by her. What I believe happened in this situation was that Rosie was encouraged, by Elaine Deckleman, to take action against me. And I don't really think the jokes were the main issue here. I believe that Elaine Deckleman, had a personal agenda against me, because in the past, I was willing to speak up about the lack of floor coverage in bodycare, and I voiced my opinion and concerns about the removal of a chair and work counter in the center of aisles 4 and 5, and was using this situation of the joke telling as a means to have disciplinary action taken against me, for her satisfaction. It's true that Josh and I told some jokes that could be viewed as inappropriate. But given Rosie's response at the time, that is, her willingness to hear Josh's joke after being told it was raunchy, and her laughter, with no visible signs of her being offended, makes me feel that there were personal agendas and vindictiveness operating behind the scenes. The fact that the heavy disciplinary action was taken only against me, suggests this to me. And when I use the word "heavy", I mean the way I was pulled into a meeting with Elaine, Sharon, and Richard, and treated as if I was an ongoing problem, in their view, that needed to be dealt with. I think as I continue with this responce, it will be seen that this was not the case, and that in fact, that past disciplinary actions taken against me were based on exaggerated and trumped up charges. So after talking to Rosie, I was called into a meeting with Sharon, the Human Resource Manager, and Elaine Deckleman. In my meeting with Sharon and Elaine, Sharon told me, that when asked, Josh had said that he thought my joke was inappropriate. When I asked him about that, he said he had not said that. Either way, what bothers me and seems true to me, is that it felt like I was being targeted for the heavy disciplinary action, but not Josh. I find it odd that Josh was questioned about me, as a means to build a case against me. When I attended my meeting with Sharon and Elaine, the energy coming from Sharon and Elaine felt very negative and full of "Gotcha" games. It is my opinion, that I was treated in a disrespectful way, like a person who had committed some terrible offense, was guilty, with no interest or tolerance shown for the possiblility that there may be another side to this story. The energy I felt from them was likened to gang activity, where someone is ganged up against and bullied. In This Stage 2 Written Warning, under Improvements needed: I found some of the wording used to be very insulting, especially the following. " There will be zero intolerance for disrespect, lying about others, or any threatening or antagonistic behavior toward manager or coworkers." It has become clear to me that the managers involved know very little about who I am or what I stand for. I have always been interested in and am always engaged in my awarenessl / yoga practice, on a daily basis. One key part of that practice is honesty, of which I can say, I am successful. To insinuate that I lie about others is factually wrong and is nothing less than an attack on my good character. Also to insinuate that I would display threatening or antagonistic behavior toward manager or coworkers is improper. In fact, it

was I who had to endure much antagonistic behavior from others in this situation. And it has deeply offended me and caused me much emotional pain, from what I felt was a targeted attack on me, full of personal agenda. To defend oneself from this vindictiveness of others and their targeted attacks is hardly something that can be viewed as wrong. I would say that it is I who is always being attacked first, with some sort of accusation or provocation such as being written up, by my manager, for giving my opinion, even when I was directly asked for my opinion, by my manager, Elaine Deckleman. And then it was backed up and supported by the Human Resource Mgr, and the General Mgr. I express my opinion and give feedback where I feel it is needed, especially when asked, and particularly when I perceive that policies, procedures, or changes in general will have a negative impact on how I perform at my job. And in the past, where I have been asked for my opinion and given it, such as when I was asked what I thought about the new floor arrangement, where the center table counter was to be moved to the front of aisles 4 & 5. (The new arrangement left us, at the time, with no centrally located seating or workspace counter) I replied that I thought it was a horrible idea and was written up for that opinion, even after I was directly asked for my opinion by my department manager. There have been other times when I have spoken up and given my feedback and was yelled at by my department manager that "my job was to be quiet and do what I was told". Hardly what I would call respectful communication. When I brought this incident up at a prior meeting where Elaine, Sharon, and I were present, Sharon asked Elaine if it were true and she denied it, which implied that I wasn't telling the truth. Sharon's response was, "It's your word against hers". It's certainly not easy to discern the truth in all matters, but it is disturbing, when a manager is dishonest and uses that against their own workers to protect themselves and then continues on as if it never happened, taking no responsibility for their words and actions, and giving no apology for their appalling behavior. This type of behavior and false denials is just wrong. No one, employees or others, should have to endure this dysfunctional abuse. One may be able to deceive others with dishonesty, for awhile, but in the end, the truth will be known. It is my belief that written warnings given for small infractions, when examined closely, are motivated by a certain amount of hostility and personal agenda. I feel that written warnings should be reserved for incidents of greater importance. In cases such as the one involving these jokes, I would say that it would be sufficient to simply talk about it, and gain an understanding of where the boundaries are for the one offended. It's not like someone is trying to hurt anyone by telling a joke, and joke telling at the Co-op is a common occurrence among male and female workers alike. I've had many a joke told to me over the years, or heard suggestive language being used that could easily be viewed as offensive, if I or others chose to see it as such. Recently, I was standing with one of our reps when a manager approached us and asked what we were talking about. We said we were talking about spiritual things, to which the manager replied to the Rep, "For twenty dollars I'll give you a spiritual experience you won't forget". All three of us laughed. After all, it's how some people create humor and there's no intention to hurt anyone. I've had women employees tell me political jokes, where the punch line is about mixing up the words,election and erection. Once again, it's all in good fun with no harm intended. Just recently in December of 2010, Rosie and a manager were trying on some funny hats in the warehouse and Rosie commented that they looked like penises. Josh was present and stated the question to her, "Don't you think that there is a double standard at play here?", to which she replied, "YES". I'm sure that she meant no harm, and Josh wasn't offended by their play. But given the fact that Rosie had us written up, and given her behavior in this situation does in fact show a double standard in the workplace. And this is what upset Josh, a double standard, where some are disciplined and others are not, for the same type of behaviors. I believe it would be mean-spirited of me to write someone up, when they intended no harm towards me or others. In fact, when I was written up for telling a joke, what I felt from others was nothing less than mean-spiritness and aggression.

And here is what I think is a very telling example of double standards in regards to this joke incident being used discriminately against Josh and I as reason for being accused of sexual harassment. On 8/3/2009, Richard, Rosie, and I were in the warehouse. Rosie was mentioning that Christine, a worker in grocery was leaving. I suggested that Cyndi, who works in the frontend might be a good one to hire for Christine's job. Richard smiles and says, "maybe she's a backend girl!". We all laugh, and I say to Rosie, "Hold on, I've got to write Richard up for that", and we all laugh again. Clearly in this situation, Rosie was not embarrassed or flustered with hearing Richard's sexual innuendo, as crude as it may have been, and Richard had no problem with saying it. So how is it that Rosie could be so embarrassed and flustered by Josh's and my jokes, to the point that her and Elaine Deckleman have us written up. And how is it that Richard can so easily approve and sign my Stage 2 Written Warning accusing me of using inappropriate sexual language and innuendos in the workplace, when he himself is guilty of the same. The double standards being used in the Co-op workplace are nothing less than abuse being targeted at certain employees at the convenience of the management. In the past, I have shared freely, my humor and jokes with all members of my department, and I've included with this response, portions of my past evaluations that expressly state that my co-workers enjoy my jokes and sense of humor, just as I have enjoyed theirs. When attending school, children are bullied, with damaging emotional and psychological results for the individual being bullied. As adults in the workplace, abuse of power is the equivalent of bullying. It's one thing to enforce rules and behavior, but when two people commit the same offence and only one is singled out for heavy handed treatment as I have been in this "telling of jokes" incident, and in other incidents over the past year or two, it is clear to me that certain individuals were acting on a personal agenda and were being vindictive. This is not the first time that I have felt the target of power abuse. In summary, I would like to list an order of five past events that I believe point to a pattern of abuse of power, or at least psychological problems of the manager. Order Of Events Incident # 1 I believe it was some where late 2006-07, just before Darby left our department, one of her tasks that E.D. had her do was to change all the product min/max targets in Scan Genius to 3's and 4's. In the process, this deleted all the buyers targets that had been built into their product lines, which had been determined, for the most part, by customers buying habits, seasonal influences, ect. For small vendor lines, the target changes were not a big deal, but for larger lines, such as NOW, which we carry well over 300 products, it is a big deal to have them suddenly changed. It takes a lot of attention and care to make the ordering flow without having too much inventory or backstock. After two or three weeks of rebuilding the targets, getting them to flow again, I expressed to E.D. how difficult the process was. She immediately became angry and yelled at me, " I don't want to hear you're negativity! " I remained calm and responded with, "well it's part of my job to give feedback", to which she screamed directly at me, " You're job is to be quiet and do what you're told! " End of conversation. Comment: This incident was denied by E.D..when she was asked about it by Sharon. Many things can be forgotten, but not so easily when they are so emotionally charged. Emotion has a way of imprinting things to memory, and I believe that she remembers this incident without a doubt. Incident # 2 At our end of the year 2007 Haba financial meeting, E.D. asked us to go around in a circle, at the close of the meeting, and said that if there was anything that we wanted to add, we should speak up. When my turn came, I said that there was something that we were

overlooking that was like a festering wound in our department, that sapped away our energy as a group. And that was, that except for Diane there was almost always no floor coverage in bodycare and that for the most part, the bodycare people sat around in the back talking and hanging out. The very next day, E.D. tells me that she would like to talk to me in Richard's office. Richard was not present. She begins by saying, " You know, Joseph, yesterday you hurt a lot of people's feelings with what you said at the end of our meeting." I asked whose feelings were hurt and she declined to say. I said that it was a department meeting and that she had asked us to speak up if there was anything we wanted to add. I also said that when someone talks about issues that they feel need addressing, she views it as negativity. E.D. expressed that she didn't think that those sorts of things needed to be mentioned and that it hurts peoples feelings. ( Translated...even though I ask for your opinion, I only want to hear what's agreeable to me. ) I said that we see it differently and that she could keep on doing what she felt she needed to do and that I would speak up when I felt that there was something that needed addressing and needed to be said. End of meeting. Comment: Here is a case where a staff person is asked and encouraged to give their opinion, and when they do, they are reprimanded. I asked everyone, who attended the meeting, if they were offended by my statement. Everyone said that they were not and most said that it was a good thing that I brought it up. When I told this to Elaine, she accused me of being intimidating with my questioning of others. In asking others about their opinion on the matter, at all times, I was gentle and intimidated no one. For the moment, let's keep in mind, that at the end of the year 2007 Haba financial meeting, I and everyone else was directly asked to go around in a circle and speak up if there was anything we wanted to add. We were asked. In my next evaluation in June 2008, here are some of the comments Elaine chose to express, and this is what one gets, for speaking their opinion, after being asked to do so. Here are some excerpts from my next evaluation following this incident. What do you see as her/his areas for improvement? Joseph needs to continue to work on conflict resolution and communication skills. He is usally positive and upbeat, but can be challenging for his coworkers. At times Joseph can be abrupt, condescending, and even hostile when frustrated. At times he undermines his manager with negative talk about decisions or policies. Goals for next evaluation including classes: Practice respectful communication with manager and coworkers at all times. All this is in responce to me speaking up when I was asked for my opinion. And to insinuate that I can be hostile and challenging is pure folly. I'm only challenging and angered, as anyone should be, when forced to defend myself in the face of such dysfunctional behavior, when the managers themselves show aggression towards their workers and use abusive language. Incident # 3 In the Haba department we have many resets over time. In 2008, Navarre and E. D. were busy with resetting sections with companies being grouped together. I had paid compliments to E.D. and Navarre on the good appearance of some of the resets, but had mentioned my concerns with two sections. The fiber and vitamin C sections. I said that some items needed more shelf space, simply because we were selling more of them. E.D. was okay with my suggestions regarding the fiber section, but when we discussed the vitamin C section, she became short tempered and said rather sharply, " It always has to come down to something negative, doesn't it? " I replied that it can be difficult to talk to her because when someone tries to give construc-

tive suggestions, she can have the tendency to see it as negativity. End of conversation. Comment; Here again, when giving small suggestions, with the idea of making something better, it's viewed as negativity. And again, I would say that there is some psychological pattern at play here. In Elaine's 2010 evaluation, I would like to point out that she was appraised as not being open to listening to other people's feedback. Incident # 4 Part 1 On October 2nd of 2008, myself and John Miller, a fomer employee Supplements Buyer, were working. We began our work day at 9 a.m.. Kara, who also is a former Co-op employee, was the receiver for the Wellness department and clocked in at 11 a.m.. We all worked the day and everything seemed to be going alright. At one point in the afternoon, somewhere around 3-4pm, I was standing at the nutritional and probiotic cooler, filling it with backstock. John approached me and began to tell me that he and Kara had went outside on the platform area by thecardboard dumpster and had a heated argument, about what John had perceived as Kara's lack of productivity for the day. John was unhappy about the fact that Kara had come into work at 11am and had not unpacked any receiving until 4pm, which is when she rolled her first cart full of received supplements onto the floor that day. As he was telling me about this, Kara came around the corner and gave us a big stare and walked away. At that point, John went down the aisle to help a customer and I rolled the cart that I was using to stock the cooler back to the warehouse. Kara was in the warehouse, apparently still upset. She began yelling at me, accusing me of talking about her with John. ( I want to say that I didn't even have a chance to say anything about her, as John had walked up to me and right off started telling me what had happened between him and Kara, and that was when Kara had come around the corner and looked at us). I told Kara that I was not talking about her and to leave me out of the whole thing. That this was between her and John. One week later, on 10/9/2008, I was brought into a disciplinary meeting and given a Stage 1 Initial Notification for this incident between John and Kara. There were no witnesses or any truth to the accusation that I had been talking to John about Kara that day. Nevertheless, this became the first part and basis for the reason that I was written up this particular time. The second part and reason for this disciplinary action is as follows... Incident # 4 Part 2 I believe it was late in 2008 that it was decided to move the Haba counter in the center of aisles 4 & 5 to the front of the aisles, toward the registers. One day shortly before the move, Craig, E.D., and myself were in the aisles by the counter when E.D. asked me what I thought about the move. I said that I thought the whole thing was a horrible idea, to which E.D. menacingly leaned over me and said, " It's horrrrrible ! " ( after all, the move would leave us with no central seating for us or the customers, and no workspace to write on when filling out special orders or a place to set our reference books when looking up information ) I liked the look that the move gave to the front of the department, but it wasn't well thought out for the people working on the floor. Comment: Once again I was asked for my opinion and reprimanded for it. In this case, I was given a written warning. As it turned out, it was finally recognized that the Haba staff needed a centrally located counter to fill out special orders on, and for customers to sit and do research reading. And also a chair whereby the workers who stand on the cement floor, for hours at a time, can sit and rest their tired ankles, feet, legs, and backs. Incident # 5 And finally we have the joke incident. Had I felt that Josh and I were treated equally for the jokes we told, it wouldn't be as upsetting to me as it is. In regards to the whole incident, I felt that there was a lot of passive aggressive energy targeted at me. It felt very hostile, unfair, and dysfunctional. It's not my intent here to have an ongoing disagreement, but I have to come to my own defence and express what I know to be true, because if one does not define themselves then others will attempt to.

In closing, I do not believe that anyone should sit quietly and endure this sort of treatment. If for no other reason, it is not healthy to suppress one's ideas and opinions. And I'm not saying that I am totally without fault, but seriously, any one using the slightest reasoning ability can easily see that I've been disciplined, for the most part, because of other people's psychological problems. Outside of telling jokes, all the other accusations and charges have been grossly exaggerated. I have to say that this whole pattern of abuse has had a detrimental effect on my emotional and psychological state. There has not been a day, since enduring the last of these dysfunctional disciplinary actions, that I have not thought about them over and over, feeling victimized and bullied by this ongoing abuse of power. I process these feelings and thoughts on a daily basis offering them up to a higher power. Democracy and progress are built from the sharing and exchange of ideas and opinions. And repression of this fundamental right to communicate is what one would see from repressive forms of governance. And as it continues, what one would expect here in responce to my statements, would be a circling of the wagons and an attempt to discredit what I have spoken here. Instead of dealing with the abuse of power, once again the energy would be turned on me, and I would be seen and treated as the "ongoing" problem. It's old style politics at it's finest, politics that only seeks to preserve the status quo, at any cost, even if what it does is shockingly wrong. To see this operating here in our workplace, and being supported by upper management, is something that should never happen in any workplace and is in need of serious correction. And finally, I would like to add. That when I was hired into the Haba department, after subbing for many years, had it not been for Richard and Zack's decision, I would have not gotten the position. To my knowledge, except for when Elaine was on medical leave, I am the only full-time Haba employee, who was hired, and for whom Elaine Deckleman refused to write a welcoming note for in the store Log. It seems that her hostility towards me has been there from the very start, and it pains me to this date, that I have to continue to defend myself against this continuing hostility and aggression. Thank you for this opportunity to respond. Joseph Tokarz January 22, 2011 Updated 9/6/2011