The Sexual Exploitation of Latina Women and
Girls at CDSI. 1992-1994.
(Or - your tax dollars at work supporting a
sexist federal contractor.)
(Or - sexual harassment, quid-pro-quo sexual
demands and sexual assault with impunity in the low-wage American workplace.)
From 1992 to 1994, the author was working full time as a computer
programmer at a very large computer services contracting corporation
that catered to federal agency customers. CDSI was a place where
both women who were corporate employees, and the Latin cleaning women
were sexually harassed.
According to the statements of a manger, the company in that time
period spent over $60,000 yearly to defend against the suits of its own
female employees, most of whom where white American women. The
contractor cleaning women had no legal recourse from the sexual
This large corporation had a contract with another large company to
clean its headquarters building in Rockville, Maryland, were the author
Latina immigrant workers (teens and adults) were subjected to very clear
and aggressive quid-pro-quo give-me-sex-or-you're-fired demands by both
the cleaning contract manager and by his assistant manager. Both
men were from El Salvador. Both openly declared to their staff
that they were "machistas" (macho-ists).
It was common to hear about the fact that a number of women had in
fact given in to the sexual demands of these cleaning crew managers.
These were poor Latina women and girls, some of whom were in the United
States without proper documentation. None of them were familiar with sexual harassment law nor
When two of these cleaning women approached the author seeking help to
end this severe sexual harassment, the author told them to call the
Montgomery County, Maryland Human Relations Commission (MCHRC).
The one woman cleaning employee who was fluent in English (a 22
year old nursing student) called the MCHRC.
The man who answered at MCHRC was hostile, and told the victims to just
put up with the harassment, and that they should call again later if it
(the author knows this man, who was somewhat known for having that
He had once derided his co-workers in a very unflattering and
emotionally angry way when talking on the phone to the author regarding
another MCHRC case. A co-worker of this man at MCHRC acknowledged
to the author (during the subsequent complaint submission meeting in
relation to this case) that my relation of this man's response to a
victim's human relations inquiry was typical of his behavior and
One night the author found a cleaning woman at the end of her shift
trembling and crying profusely. He consoled her. He then
proceeded to write a formal letter to the company informing them of the
illegal sexual harassment and abuse that their contracted cleaning
company manager and assistant manager were involved in.
On the day that the author got involved, the corporation promised the author
that they would get rid of the culprits. They initially expressed shock that these events were occurring.
CDSI's management met with the vice president of this large office
cleaning company that afternoon. Instead of reprimanding and/or firing the
perpetrators, the cleaning company vice president apparently convinced CDSI to
conspire to: 1) pressure the victims to quit (and they did quit); 2) harass the
other women "complainers" into shutting up (and they did); and push the
author out of the company through intimidation (which they also succeeded in,
but not without a year long battle of wits and action).
For over a year, the author endured his car getting broken into, having
his car keyed twice, his phone being cut off every time the author
called his lawyer about these issues, his pass card into the building
being cut off mysteriously immediately after standing up for the Latina
Women workers, and a retroactive re-wording of his employee fitness
reports to set up a scenario where they could legally deny the
author re-employment after a later layoff (in retrospect, this was
planned for over a year).
The cleaning company vice president showed up at the author's desk the night
after he wrote the formal letter of complaint to CDSI's president.
At 8:00 PM (part of the author's normal shift), the cleaning
company vice president came into the author's work area an screamed at him,
demanding to know who the victims of the sexual harassment were.
the author refused to tell him, but he was told by the actual
perpetrators of the sexual assaults and sexual harassment, the two on-site
The cleaning company vice president screamed at the author that the
author should be fired for "getting into 'his' people's business."
did not work for this cleaning company vice president's company, but for his
cleaning services client, CDSI. Service company's who provide services to
large corporations usually do not go around intimidating employees of their
client's company. Such a action is, under normal circumstances, not at all
good for business.
Apparently CDSI and the cleaning company had some corporate linkage that allowed
the cleaning company vice president to feel that he had the power to force the
author's illegal retaliatory firing from CDSI as a response to the
author's writing of a formal letter of complaint to CDSI, addressing the severe
sexual harassment and assault of Latina immigrant cleaning women and minor girls
Unknown to the cleaning company vice president, the author's overall
contract manger (four levels up the chain of management command from the
author) was working late, as usual. As this cleaning company vice president was screaming and
pointing his finger in the author's face (intimidating, as he had a
quarterback's build), the author walked over toward the CDSI project
cubicle so that this act of intimidation could be witnessed.
This CDSI project manager was not sympathetic. He tried to justify the
presence of this unknown stranger who did not work for this company.
Apparently this had all been "arranged" in a meeting between the cleaning
company vice president and CDSI officials that day. The cafeteria and the
meeting rooms (where intimidating interrogations of the two women harassment
victims by the cleaning company vice president were held), had been pre-reserved
for this purpose during the day in question.
The cleaning crew of 14 was brought together in the cafeteria, and the
two victims were, in a publicly embarassing way, called out of the crowd
in front of their peers and were pulled into a CDSI corporate office
cleaning company vice president sternly talked to the victims and told
them not to file any legal complaints.
Although the two women victims wanted me to be present at these intimidating
interrogation sessions at CDSI, my software team's leader told me that if I
entered the interrogation room he would call the police on me for interfering
with the cleaning contractor vice president's actions! Ultimately, I
called the police to assist these women.
During this intimidation meeting behind closed doors, the author stated
to the CDSI project manager present that he felt intimidated, and that,
given the cleaning company vice president's intimidating actions towards
the author, perhaps the police should be called.
At the time the author worked part time as the Montgomery County Police
Department's civilian computer programmer for personal computer
This CDSI project manager told me emphatically not to call the police.
proceeded to call the police, stating to the 911 operator that
intimidation, nothing illegal (yet), was occurring, but that the author
wanted to insure that nothing illegal happened.
the author identified himself to the police dispatcher as a civilian
employee of the department.
The MCPD sent six patrol cars to CDSI headquarters.
After the author explained the situation to the officers, they
waited until the cleaning company vice president released the sexual harassment
victims before leaving. the author
explained to these officers the conditions of sexual assault and harassment that
existed in the building. the author
also related to them that the local Montgomery County Human Relations Commission
had been repeatedly unresponsive, and these women had nowhere to turn for
help. The officers were sympathetic to the situation but refused to get
involved without a formal complaint from a victim being filed. The lead
officer of the six officer team, an American woman, suggested that the author
should approach the Maryland Human Relations Commission if the county's MCHR was
being unresponsive in its actions.
Once the officers were assured that the author was satisfied that the women were
in no apparent danger, they left.
During this episode, these six MCPD officers did not enter the office areas of
the CDSI headquarters building where these intimidating interrogations were
The cleaning company vice president was apparently afraid of the
police presence, as he did not show his face to these MCPD officers and only
came out of the building after they left.
After this embarrassing public humiliation, the victims left the company
under pressure. They were
specifically asked by the cleaning company vice president, and also by
CDSI's Human resources department: "wouldn't your prefer to
LEAVE!" Under this official pressure, they did react to the
intimidation and they left their jobs at CDSI.
The perpetrators, seeing that the whole corporate establishment backed
them up, continued to harass the female women who worked there.
These women, seeing this result, either left or gave in to the
pressure (not surprising if you don't have documents and the ability to
feed you children by applying to some other job.)
These victims were single mothers, married women, and girls as
young as 15 and 17.
A 17 year old high school girl left the company immediately after this
police intervention event.
One married Salvadoran woman office cleaner, who was being severely sexually
harassed at the time of the intervention of the cleaning company vice president,
apparently gave in to the sexual demands of the cleaning crew assistant manager
a day or two after these events. This
assistant cleaning company site manager, after seeing corporate
management of both the cleaning company and CDSI back him up, looked
visibly buoyed, happy, and confident that he could sexually harass any female
cleaning employee he wanted to.
This Salvadoran woman cleaner, seeing that the author had also been visibly
intimidated, knew that she could no longer ask him for help without risking his
job at CDSI. She did not look happy about this situation - at all.
These events occurred in 1993 and 1994.
On May 27, 1994, the author gave a one hour speech to the Montgomery
County Women's Commission about these events and the general issue of
the lawless sexual exploitation of Latin immigrant women in Montgomery
These 20 mostly women commissioners, mostly lawyers, were mostly
sympathetic, although some were skeptical.
The one Latina member, a Panamanian born medical doctor and community
clinic director, agreed with the author's presentation and conclusions,
and also agreed with his assertions that the women and girl victims of
this "legalized rape" were contracting HIV/AIDS and this was thus a life
and death issue. A Cherokee
woman member of the commission also stood up and thanked the author for
his work in this area.
An official letter of appreciation from the commission chairwoman at the
time, Donna Rae Richardson, from June 6, 1994, is available on this web
The Women's Commission said nothing officially, stating that they were
an advisory body, but individually, they likely made the proper
authorities aware of these events.
After his May 27, 1994 talk, the author closed a contract on his second
house on June 10, 1994.
CDSI knew of this through the obvious taps they had on all corporate
phones (for example, they cut my phone off every time I spoke with my
lawyer about them).
On June 13, 1994 the author was laid off with the rest of his
software development team.
There was little warning that this was coming.
the author concluded that this layoff was triggered directly by
the Women's Commission's inquiries, given the week of difference between
the two events.
All members of the team were placed in other company jobs (CDSI had
4,000 employees then). the
author interviewed at a local CDSI contract site in the U.S. Energy
Department, where a relative had previously worked.
Three managers were very eager to hire the author immediately. The
corporate headquarters denied his application to work there.
They used the retroactively downgraded employee performance review
from just after the scandal/police intervention, as their excuse.
once overheard the lead project manager of the 100 programmers in our CDSI
(U.S. Housing and Urban Development contract) project team (the manager
who attempted to intimidate the author into not calling the police)
saying to a fellow Texan programmer, while discussing me and this issue
early: "You KNOW what we'd do
to him down in Texas!"
This was the project manager who refused to take any action when
the cleaning company vice president came into my cubicle and yelled,
screamed and pointed his finger in the author's face.
In the end, the author was laid off for over five months from his job at CDSI,
where the author had been a hard working employee.
One human resources employee engaged in his harassment stated to
the author in a meeting that "As a woman, I respect and admire what you are
doing, but as an official of the corporation, I must do my job." Her "job"
was to participate in the corporate retaliation for the author's advocacy for
the Latina cleaning women at CDSI.
Luckily, the author had his part time job in the county Police
Department as their PC applications programmer. Between that part time
job and his work as a musician he financially survived these terrible
Thanks to the likely actions of individual members of the Montgomery
County Women's Commission, and also thanks to CDSI's cold-blooded
internal save-its-own-butt mentality, five levels of senior management
lost their jobs over this issue.
Three of those five lost their jobs before the author was laid off.
A senior vice president, a junior vice president, the Texan leader
of our 100 member U.S. Housing and Urban Development department contract
software, team, the leader of his 40 member team (who was only demoted),
his successor, and the immediate leader of his 7 member team who
retroactively downgraded his performance reviews... except for the
manager who was demoted, they were all canned (let go) by CDSI.
The managerial staff let go were not, in the author's opinion, removed as a
reprimand for their bad conduct, but because these managers could not find
an effective way to get the author to leave his job through harassment, short of
laying-off the whole U.S. HUD contract team. At one point, the two
managers immediately above the author obliged the author to change the hours of
his work shift for no practical reason. As these men knew that the author
worked a part-time job in the Montgomery County Police Department, they knew
that the author would be forced to quit one job or the other. Either
result would be useful in their efforts to silence the author's victim advocacy.
The effort did not work, as the MCPD allowed the author to adapt his work shift
at MCPD headquarters to accommodate the forced shift change at CDSI.
The original rapists (the two cleaning supervisors who were from El
Salvador, as were most of their victims) stayed on in their positions at
CDSI after the two Latina women victims where forced out of the cleaning
The cleaning company, to legally save itself, sold itself to another
corporation. The cleaning company
vice president was sent to live in California (the author ran into him in his
moving sale, not knowing that he lived two blocks from me during this whole
battle!) He insulted the author
under his breath as the author left his house. During the author's yard-sale visit to his house, the
cleaning company vice president asked if the author were still working at CDSI.
The cleaning company vice president expressed visible surprise when he found out
that the author had not been fired from CDSI (in retaliation for defending
victims of rape and harassment).
The events leading to my layoff on June 13, 1994 occurred
shortly after this chance encounter with the cleaning company vice president at
his home. The Latino men present to help pack and move household items at
the moving sale were, as they told the author, employees of the cleaning
company. They stated to the author that the cleaning company vice
president had been transferred to California.
The new cleaning company's off-site account manager (a man originally
from Spain) had been overheard by the author in the CDSI cafeteria one
day promising the two on-site cleaning managers that he would protect
them from any "problems." Shortly afterward, the part-time
assistant cleaning crew manager was told to leave that contract, as he
also worked full time for the same company at another location.
One night at CDSI, according to a male Salvadoran friend of the author
on this cleaning crew, the new account manager found the on-site
cleaning manager occupying the CDSI president's office for sexual
purposes with one of his cleaning crew women.
Seeing that his assertions (the
author was long since gone) were true, and seeing the risk that proof of these
activities existed in support of possible victim's legal action, this new
manager fired the head cleaning supervisor.
He then FIRED ALL OF THE CLEANING WORKERS (all were Latin
immigrants), for no legitimate reason, only to legally cover his tracks on
the firing of the head supervisor. This was similar in form to CDSI's
laying off of it's entire U.S. Department of H.U.D. team two weeks after the
author spoke to the Montgomery County Women's Commission.
The cleaning woman who was found in the
CDSI president's office after hours with the cleaning crew manager was
not single. Her wheeled trash container (called a "tambo" in
Spanish) was typically parked outside of the CDSI president's
office during her whole shift, while she was behind pass-card secured
doors with the cleaning crew manager. the author had seen her
crying at work and with an ashamed face. The reasons are fairly
obvious. She was being sexually exploited in a quid-pro-quo
hostile work environment, and the whole corporate infrastructure bought
CDSI merged with another company and no
longer exists as CDSI.
Other important points surrounding this
* Latin American professional women who were
employees at CDSI's headquarters offered to assist the author in fighting the
battle with CDSI to win justice for the Latina victims of sexual harassment and
assault on the cleaning crew. the author asked them to not get involved,
as they would likely loose their jobs over this issue. One of them had
talked with other CDSI staff who had seen the cleaning company on-site manager
engaged in sexually abusing his female workers in an isolated room near CDSI's
mainframe computer room (a huge computer room that handled a lot of
high-security work for the Pentagon).
* the author once called the police (MCPD)
on a non-emergency number to report the fact that his car had been
vandalized in the CDSI parking lot.
The cleaning company on-site assistant manager was standing on a
loading dock close by to the author's vehicle when the author had
discovered that the door handle had been broken during his work shift in
an attempt to break in.
The police operator insisted that this event was no big deal, and
he refused to send a patrol officer to check out my complaint of
* Also, the author was, at his part time
job in the Montgomery County Police Department, once in the presence of
one of the MCPD officers who had been present with her five fellow
officers on the first night of the "incident" at CDSI.
She called the building manger for CDSI.
After the conversation she warned the author to "watch his back,"
because CDSI was planning to make the author the focus of attention to
* When the author went to the Montgomery
County Human Relations Commission with the two original Latina women who
had asked for assistance against the sexual harassment at CDSI, the
Hispanic intake officer had gone to a dentist appointment, even though
the author had set up an appointment to file formal EEOC complaints
against CDSI from these two women workers.
Another case investigator at the MCHRC began to give the victims
the complaint forms, and then abruptly said that she was leaving now and
would not process the case intake.
She stated, after hearing about the case, that "these women need to
unionize." She was quite
sarcastic and had a tired-of-it-all attitude.
The two victims of these incidents, seeing this reaction from the
MCHRC, left and never came back again to file a complaint.
* For them, these events were too similar
to the types of treatment that women victims face from police and
government in El Salvador, their place of birth.
* Shortly after the on-site cleaning supervisor
(principal perpetrator of the sexual harassment and assaults) was fired for
being "discovered" at CDSI, the author saw him come to Montgomery County's
police headquarters building to get a background check done. He was
accompanied by a person who was apparently his manager at a new cleaning job,
and he was apparently applying for a work based visa, thus the need for a
background check for U.S. INS. the author related to police officer
friends who this guy was. Without a complaintant, there is no case.
* All of the details of this case described here
above were related verbally by the author to the Montgomery County, Maryland
Women's Commission during a one hour presentation on May 27, 1994.
Getting victims to file
complaints is difficult. When they see acts of official
indifference, apathy, intimidation, anti-immigrant hostility and
inaction all around them from police, government and corporations, they
simply give up and assume that nothing can be done, and that the
fatalism common in Latin America should continue to guide their actions
in the U.S. At that point, they buy into the code of silence that
allows these forms of the sexual oppression of women and girls to exist,
continue and flourish.
* Also during his stay at CDSI, our software team (mostly white men) literally
harassed all four programmers from India off of our team through harassment and
false poor performance reports. Our
one Chinese woman programmer, from Beijing, was harassed by other programmers
when layoff became imminent, because they felt that she was so smart that she
could get another job easier than they could.
One of the author's team leaders, a Jewish woman, told the author
that she had come to corporate headquarters to work after working on a CDSI
contract a the U.S. Department of Energy headquarters, where she encountered
daily, open, blatant and crudely racist anti-Semitic remarks from many
CDSI told her essentially to shut up or be fired.
* A niece of a relative of the author, who worked at another CDSI contract at
the Federal Energy RegulatoryCommission, was threatened with death by a fellow
employee when she refused to date him.
Neither the DC Police nor CDSI helped her, nor would CDSI allow her to move to
another work location.
* During this time (1993-1994) a friend,
the Hispanic Intake Officer for the county Human Relations Commission,
compared notes with me and concluded that it was only a matter of time
before open racial conflict developed in Montgomery County, MD.
* During this time the author also assisted
six Latin American immigrant women in bringing complaint cases before the
Montgomery County Human Relations Commission, who is the local contractor for
the federal EEOC.
The four cases in MCHRC's jurisdiction were suppressed in one way or
One case, blatantly
supressed after a formal complaint was filed, involved a situation in
which more than a dozen Latina women and teen girl workers had been fired for
not giving in sexually to the three on-site cleaning managers at One Central
Plaza in Rockville, MD. One victim was a pregnant Salvadoran woman who was
repeatedly subjected to unwanted and aggressive sexual caresses while pregnant,
was fired, sent home, and was told to come back to work after her pregnancy
(when, it was implied, she could become "sexually useful" to her cleaning
Case #3) on this web site.
Needless to say, these
event were quite shocking
to all of those involved.