Witness Details Alleged CFPB Gender, Racial Discrimination
WASHINGTON — Angela Martin, senior enforcement attorney at the CFPB, told a congressional committee on Wednesday that the bureau’s Office of Consumer Response is referred to internally as the plantation.
Martin, who accused managers at the agency of racial and gender discrimination, said most, if not all employees in the consumer response office are African American.
“It’s extremely hard to leave the plantation,” she said.
Martin also said an employee who immigrated to the U.S. and had become a citizen told her a manager at the CFPB referred to him as an ‘f’in’ foreigner.’”
Additionally, Martin testified she was told she would have more success at the bureau if she allowed male co-workers to claim her ideas as their own.
Certain managers at the CFPB have adopted an authoritarian, untouchable, unaccountable and unanswerable management style, Martin told the House Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing. “There is a pervasive culture of retaliation and intimidation that silences employees and chills the workforce from exposing wrongdoing. Just two weeks ago, I learned of another employee who was retaliated against within two days of filing a formal EEO complaint,” said Martin, who filed her own EEO complaint in February of 2013.
“Many employees have come to me and told me alarming stories of their own maltreatment and the retaliation that resulted when they opposed mismanagement or exercised any individual right,” she added.
Martin told lawmakers she discussed her concerns with CFPB Director Richard Cordray, who interviewed and hired her. In response, Martin said Cordray told her he has inexperienced managers.
“The mismanagement and abuse of authority have precluded me from doing my part to carry out the bureau’s important mission. Indeed, today marks the 400th day that I have been isolated and prevented from performing any meaningful work,” she said in her testimony. “I never received a fair shake at the bureau, and I have not been assigned one case or enforcement matter during my entire tenure.”
Martin also said the CFPB’s Office of Human Capital did not help address her concerns.
“It’s just an arm of management that’s going to be used against you,” she said.
Martin claimed that many CFPB employees have shared stories of discrimination with her but are afraid to speak publicly, adding that coming forward may jeopardize her case at the bureau.
Congressional Democrats called to have the hearing canceled, charging that the investigation was politically motivated.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) asked Martin if she would like to see the CFPB weakened.
“We want to protect its existence. I’m not out to destroy the bureau,” she said.
CFPB officials were also invited to testify before the committee, but did not attend. As a result, the hearing only consisted of one witness panel that consisted of Martin and Misty Raucci, former investigator for the Defense Investigators Group.
Martin also said she would like to see the CFPB increase transparency.
Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) asked Martin if CFPB Director Cordray contacted her personally about the case.
Martin said Cordray called her directly in August and told her to tell her attorneys to back down.
Ranking Member Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and other Democrats praised Martin for coming forward with her story and urged the majority to investigate matters of discrimination across all federal agencies.