EXCLUSIVE: Obama Consumer Official Leaves Amid Charges He Helped Create ‘Toxic Workplace’
One of the officials blamed for creating a “toxic workplace” for women and minorities at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — including running a unit employees nickname “The Plantation” — is leaving the agency, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
Scott Pluta, an assistant director of the troubled Office of Consumer Response, told the bureau “he is leaving to pursue another opportunity,” according to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) spokesman Samuel Gilford. Gilford declined to provide any further details.
During his five stormy years at CFPB, Pluta was identified by an independent investigator retained by the bureau of helping to create a “toxic workplace” at the consumer agency, whose creation in 2010 was championed by President Barack Obama and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren was then an Obama political appointee at the Department of the Treasury and the chief architect of the first new agency created by the president.
Pluta attempted to ignore complaints by whistleblower Angela Martin when she raised the issue of discrimination against women and minority employees at CFPB. Pluta retaliated against Martin, according to Misty Raucci, the private investigator hired by CFPB.
At the time, Pluta was Martin’s boss in the Bureau’s Consumer Response unit.
While investigating the Martin case, Raucci was so inundated with complaints from other CFPB employees, she concluded the bureau operated a “toxic workplace” for minority and female employees.
Raucci appeared before an April 2014 House Financial Services Committee hearing and delivered a scathing 29-page report that criticized a number of top CFPB managers, including Pluta.
Raucci concluded that Pluta allowed Martin to be subject to “relentless hostility” from another CFPB official, Dane D’Alessandro.
“Mr. Pluta did little, if anything, to curtail Mr. D’Alessandro’s continued open bashing, bullying, and marginalization of Ms. Martin,” Raucci said in her congressional testimony.
“There is a pervasive culture of retaliation and intimidation that silences employees and chills the workforce from exposing wrongdoing,” Martin testified.
Pluta, a former Obama campaign worker, did not tolerate dissent, according to Martin and other CFPB workers. At an “all hands” meeting of his staff, he repeatedly dismissed the then-upcoming April congressional hearing about employment discrimination and ridiculed it as “political theater.”
Pluta also denigrated CFPB employees who gave anonymous testimony to congressional investigators at the meeting.
The hearing focused on Pluta’s consumer response unit, which was derisively nicknamed, “The Plantation” by CFPB employees because all the workers were black and its managers were white.
Martin testified that CFPB managers hired only African-Americans to work at the consumer complaint intake unit. She was the witness who told Congress the unit had been called “The Plantation.”
“If you’re a black in Consumer Response, most of the managers are white males. Women have left. They have been replaced by white males,” Martin told the committee. “Anybody who has left that office is a woman or a minority,” Martin said.
In 2013, CFPB employees filed 115 official grievances through its union, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), according to an NTEU local chapter executive vice president. NTEU officials have said the number is high for an agency with only 1,300 employees.
Martin was moved out of the Consumer Response unit and in a settlement, the bureau reassigned her to a new position and relocated to Sanford, N.C.
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