MERCED -- Five employees of Healthy House within A MATCH Coalition, a Merced nonprofit, have filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over working conditions there.
More than 20 workers have signed a petition outlining a series of complaints about how the organization is run. They told the Sun-Star they are calling for the resignation of Executive Director Candice Adam-Medefind and office manager John Asenjo.
Adam-Medefind declined to comment when contacted by the Sun-Star. Asenjo didn't return phone calls seeking a statement.
The workers' petition was submitted to Healthy House's board of directors earlier this month. Employees say the board failed to take the issues seriously.
Board members said the concerns are being investigated. Since the issues were raised, two Healthy House board members have resigned.
Adam-Medefind joined Healthy House as executive director in 2010. The nonprofit, which has about 40 employees, had $1.14 million in annual revenue and $990,128 in expenses in 2009, according to the most recent financial records filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
As of 2010, Adam-Medefind's annual salary was $67,500.
Healthy House's funding comes from grant money. Its top funders include Mercy Medical Center, the California Endowment and the California Wellness Foundation, financial records show.
It was founded about 14 years ago to improve the health of people throughout Merced by providing interpretative services at medical facilities and trying to close the gap between Hmong beliefs and Western medicine.
In their complaint to the board employees say Adam-Medefind treats Healthy House as her own business. They raised questions about business practices, monitoring of vacation and sick leave, and conflicts of interest.
According to the complaint, Adam-Medefind has a conflict of interest because she hired her husband, Marc Medefind, to clean the office and write news releases for the nonprofit.
Marc Medefind on Wednesday said he's always donated his time to Healthy House.
"I've never been paid by the Healthy House," he said.
Medefind called the complaints about his wife "ridiculous" and said she has done a lot for the community.
"I just hope that Healthy House can continue to be healthy," he added.
Employees told the Sun-Star they don't feel comfortable in the work environment that's been created.
Sharan Karrha, a bookkeeper at Healthy House, told the Sun-Star the situation has taken a toll on her health. She said she can't sleep at night because of the unethical things she has to do at work.
"As you can see, this is really hard for me because I have to do things that are against my own will," she said with tears in her eyes.
In their EEOC complaint, employees allege age and gender discrimination, including favoritism to a full-time male employee.
Elva Pena, a Spanish interpreter and administrative assistant to Adam-Medefind, told the Sun-Star that she has been questioned about the time she arrives at work but the male employee hasn't.
James Ryan, spokesman for the EEOC, declined to comment.
"By federal law, possible complaints made to the EEOC are strictly confidential and officials are prohibited from commenting on them, furnishing any information on them or even confirming or denying the existence of such a charge," he said in an email. "Only when and if we file suit are we allowed to furnish any information."
The Sun-Star obtained copies of the complaints filed with the EEOC. One of the employees received written confirmation from the agency that it had received her complaint.