EDITOR'S NOTE: This story quotes extensively from a report prepared for Merced County that uses language that many will find offensive.
Graphic sex talk, nepotism and retaliation against employees are all detailed in an investigative report on one of Merced County's leaders -- who's been at the helm of a seemingly dysfunctional department for several years.
Karen Adams, treasurer-tax collector, clerk and registrar of voters, is facing at least a reprimand from the Board of Supervisors during today's meeting since several claims against her, including creating a hostile work environment, have been substantiated by an independent investigator, the law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore.
Two agenda items will deal with the issue during the meeting. One calls for Adams to be censured, the other for her to be stripped of some of her duties.
Work on the report started around the first of the year. It was released to county administration in July and includes several employee accounts of Adams' language and behavior -- much of it odd and inappropriate in the workplace.
Adams, who's hired an attorney, released a written statement Monday about the allegations.
She went into little detail when reached by phone. "The complaint findings lack competent evidence and have not been substantiated," she wrote in an emailed statement.
Adams, whose annual base salary totals $155,251.20, claims the investigation was prompted by a disgruntled employee after her annual pay increase was denied because of poor performance.
"She filed a claim against me asserting I had created a hostile work environment and was discriminating and retaliating against her in violation of county policies and the law," Adams' statement reads. "She brought forth other employees who had received warnings and reprimands regarding their deficient performance to support their claims."
Adams said she was forced to wait more than four months for a copy of the report, not allowing enough time for her to review the allegations and discuss issues she has with the report.
The report states Adams uses flurries of foul language, and claims she's known for discussing sexual topics in the workplace -- discussions that commonly make the employees she supervises uncomfortable.
An account taken from an employee gave an example of one of Adams' comments at the office while confronting someone about taking credit for her work. "If you're going to talk about me, you should at least tell the truth," according to the interview taken from the employee. "You should tell people I like to suck (slang for penis), because I do. Yeah, I like to give head and get head."
Adams has mentioned her personal life during work hours, once saying a trip to the doctor was because of "an issue regarding sex with her boyfriend," according to the report.
Much of Adams' language in the workplace includes profanity and makes employees feel uncomfortable, according to the report. One employee recounted hearing Adams say, "Oh, if I had a (slang for penis) instead of (slang for breasts), I'd get what I wanted."
The investigator mentioned a witness' comment that Adams also made a statement about killing an employee. "I credit (redacted name's) assertion that Karen made a statement to (redacted name) that she wants to kill her," according to the report's findings, which later read, "Karen agreed the work environment was hostile, and at that point indicated she thought about killing (redacted name)."