Opinion

These female CalPERS employees are right: The board of directors is made up of hypocrites

Hear 3 women accuse CalPERS board candidate of leering at them

JJ Jelincic has been an influential force for years within CalPERS, the largest public pension fund in the United States. He is currently running for the CalPERS board. In 2011, three women accused Jelincic of leering at them in the workplace.
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JJ Jelincic has been an influential force for years within CalPERS, the largest public pension fund in the United States. He is currently running for the CalPERS board. In 2011, three women accused Jelincic of leering at them in the workplace.

Two more female employees of CalPERS spoke out against a controversial CalPERS leader on Wednesday, taking aim at the board of directors of the Sacramento-based pension fund who, the women said, are hypocrites.

They are hypocrites, they told the board directly, for insisting that other companies maintain a “zero tolerance” against the harassment of women while doing nothing about a harasser within CalPERS.

The harasser in question, J.J. Jelincic, is running for a seat on the CalPERS board in an election that will be decided by CalPERS retirees. Ballots will go out to members soon.

Jelincic has a long history with CalPERS, as a board member and an investment expert. In 2011, he was sanctioned by CalPERS for harassing three women who, at the time, were low level office workers within CalPERS. An administrative law judge upheld a censure against Jelincic and found the testimony of the three women to be credible.

Despite this, the censure Jelincic endured was little more than a slap on the wrist. He was still re-elected to the CalPERS board in 2013. His case was barely noted in the media and he has basically been allowed to say the women made up most of the allegations against them.

Opinion

The three women spoke at 2011 hearing and said that Jelincic had made their work lives miserable. He would leer at them, looking them up and down. He would make juvenile noises when they walked by. He would look for excuses to have the women come to his work station, all the while looking them up and down.

All of it got swept under the rug until now. Both of the women who spoke at the Wednesday CalPERS board meeting are CalPERS employees. They were speaking on behalf of Jelincic’s victims who, they said, are still too traumatized and embarrassed to address the board themselves.

Both of Wednesday’s speakers, Gabriela Urdaneta and Charity Bowman, blamed board members for contributing to the fear felt by the women harassed by Jelincic.

“This is not a victimless crime,” said Bowman, who is an associate government program analyst. “(Jelincic) needs to be held accountable and does not deserve a seat on this board...We shouldn’t still be fighting this fight.”

Bowman called out current board members who are endorsing Jelincic, including Jason Perez, a police officer in the City of Corona.

Looking at Perez, Bowman said: ”You identified yourself as a ‘certified good guy.’ You said you would hold people accountable. Why aren’t you holding Jelincic accountable? You endorsed him. Your job is to protect and to serve. But who are you protecting and who are you serving?”

State election records show that Perez accepted $3,000 in campaign donations last year from Jelincic.

Perez responded that he’s a “facts guy” and needs to learn more facts about the censure of Jelincic.

Calls to Perez were not returned on Wednesday.

If anything, Jelincic’s case proves that organizations such as CalPERS can maintain so-called “zero tolerance” policies on workplace harassment without policies having much teeth. Before investing in companies, CalPERS makes a big deal about steering clear of those that who don’t get the message on protecting women in the workplace.

And yet there is Jelincic, supported by Perez and several groups representing CalPERS employees. Board members on Wednesday said there was little they could do.

Bowman said she and other women will not sit still for it.

“We will continue to show up, “ Bowman said. “We will grow in numbers.”

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Marcos Breton writes commentary and opinion columns about the Sacramento region, California and the United States. He’s been a California newspaperman for more than 30 years. He’s a graduate of San Jose State University, a voter for the Baseball Hall of Fame and the proud son of Mexican immigrants.
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