Madison Wisconsin Hearing Office

August 31, 2016

While I certainly have issues with hearing offices, none in Jacksonville rise to the level that sicken me.  I realize that is a fairly low bar, but read on about the issues going in in Madison, Wisconsin.  Federal agents are looking into allegations of misconduct – specifically, sexual harassment.  See this article from last month.

 

MADISON, Wis. – Federal investigators are in Madison seeking answers to widespread allegations of misconduct at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration questioned staff members at the Madison office Wednesday and are expected to continue their on-site investigation through the weeks, according to an ODAR employee and whistleblower.

Celia Machelle Keller, a lead case technician at the Madison office, said OIG’s presence gives her more confidence that something will finally be done about what some Madison employees have called a “culture of corruption and cover up.”

“I’m confident something will be done, but I’m not confident it will be what is ultimately needed, which is a pure wash of local and regional managers,” Keller said. “The corruption is not just in the Madison office, it’s in the regional office.

The OIG, sources say, has for weeks been conducting an investigation into conduct complaints, particularly those allegations surrounding Administrative Law Judge John Pleuss and Hearing Office Director Laura Hodorowicz.

As Wisconsin Watchdog first reported, Pleuss is accused of sexually harassing staff members and disability claimants. Wisconsin Watchdog last month obtained Pleuss’ case notes in which he described claimants with adjectives like “buxom,” “cute,” and, in the case of a black woman appearing before him, “gorilla-like.”

Multiple whistleblowers accuse Pleuss of inappropriately touching and addressing them, and deciding disability cases based on the physical attractiveness of claimants.

Keller claims Pleuss inappropriately hugged her, making her feel uncomfortable.

Sources also claim Hodorowicz and other administrators have retaliated against them, and have effectively bribed employees, rewarding them for their loyalty and silence.

U.S. Sen Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on June 14 sent a letter to Carolyn Colvin, informing the SSA’s acting commissioner that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has opened an inquiry into reports of misconduct and retaliation in both the Madison and Milwaukee ODAR facilities. Johnson is chairman of that panel.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, recently sent a letter to SSA’s acting commissioner demanding that the agency take “immediate action” to address the allegations.

“In light of an apparent lack of disciplinary action since my previous correspondence, I believe it is time for you to intervene and ensure that the Madison ODAR office is a safe work environment, free from inappropriate behavior, that provides the highest-quality service to my constituents,” Baldwin wrote.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee still is waiting for the SSA to complete multiple requests for information.

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