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Monday, January 14, 2008

A Schnauzer Spy Story, Part IV

Let's return to our "Schnauzer Spy Story." In our previous installments, we have shown how strange events in your life could be connected to abuse of our telecommunications system by people in positions of public trust. As I noted earlier, I don't have all of the facts on this subject nailed down yet, so I have written about it in a somewhat theoretical sense--asking the reader to put himself in my shoes. Events very similar to the ones described here actually took place with my wife and me. This will be the final installment, for now, and it shows just how strange things can get when you think someone might be prying into your personal business.

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Now that you know a judge has the power to easily track your telephone communications, you decide to take some special precautions regarding your wife's job search. You learn about communications methods that are very difficult to track, and your wife begins to use them.

In less than three weeks, she has a job offer from a reputable organization. Until you altered your communications methods, she had searched fruitlessly for a job for almost three years. This makes you grow even more suspicious about possible traces of some sort on your phones.

Even though your wife finally has a job, you quickly discover the cloud of possible surveillance has not passed.

Perhaps you relax a little once your wife has a job offer. Or perhaps you just don't realize the extent to which powerful people will go to track your communications. Anyway, you make a mistake.

Your wife is at her new employer one day, filling out some papers prior to beginning work. She calls once from one of her employer's phones to your office phone.

A few days later, your wife is told that the job offer is no longer on the table, even though she had accepted it and was to begin work any day. Your wife is stunned. When she asks for an explanation, she gets generalities like "we didn't think it was going to work out" and "we didn't think it would be a good fit."

Strangely, the woman who gives your wife this distressing news says the company will pay her two weeks salary. Amidst your anger and suspicion, you wonder, "Why would they pay two weeks' salary? Is this a form of hush money, which is supposed to keep you and your wife from asking questions?"

You ask yourself another pretty obvious question: Is somebody tracking calls to or from your office phone? Did your wife's call to your office phone cost her a job?

From your research on phone surveillance, you know that anyone with connections to a judge could do this easily.

Meanwhile, your wife wants answers. She writes a letter to the woman who had offered the job, and taken it away, asking for a legitimate explanation. Your wife also explains about your involvement with a legal case and the possibility that someone had tracked your communication and intentionally taken steps to cost your wife a job.

The company does not respond, but your wife soon hears from their attorney. Your wife notes options that would allow her under the law to conduct discovery in an effort to determine whether she was harmed--both criminally and civilly--by these recent events. (This option is called Rule 27. It allows a party to conduct discovery prior to filing a claim, essentially to discover whether the party truly has a claim or not.) The lawyer makes it clear that the company does not want to get into a legal proceeding over the matter. So your wife says, "Fine, I'd like to see records of ingoing and outgoing phone calls to the company from the time I applied and was interviewed and offered a job till the time I was told I did not have a job."

These records, your wife knows, would reveal the phone numbers of anyone who, having tracked her phone communication, might have followed up with the a call to the company, discouraging them from hiring her.

The attorney doesn't seem at all interested in providing this information. She says that under Alabama law, the employer doesn't have to offer an explanation for its actions. The attorney, who once had stated that she would like to see the matter resolved short of a courtroom, now seems mainly interested in stonewalling.

Of course, it's not just you and your wife who should be interested in getting to the bottom of the situation. If someone called the company and said something false and defamatory about your wife, it cost the company a very good employee, one who probably would have worked for them for years. It cost them an employee who had already proven she was the best candidate for the job.

What if someone, seemingly acting in an official capacity, called the company and said something false and defamatory about your wife, causing the company to have second thoughts about hiring her? If that happened, you, your wife, and the company were victims of wire fraud--a federal crime. Your wife was the victim of slander, a civil wrong.

The lawyer and company, however, clearly are not interested in discovering the truth. They just want to duck and cover, which makes you think even more that someone in a powerful position got to them in an unlawful way.

Another question comes to your mind: Does this company have a history of treating employees and would-be employees this way? If so, you figure it would have a number of lawsuits filed against it in federal court. So you check court records and find only one employment lawsuit against the company, and that was about 12 years earlier, a race-discrimination case--and race is not a factor with your wife, who is white.

The company evidently does not have a history of acting the way it has acted toward your wife. So you are left to ask: Why is it acting this way now?

Imagine that all of this has happened to you and your wife. What would you think had happened? What would you do about it?

1 comment:

John Leek said...

I'd be pissed and I'd want justice. Keep it up!