Federal Communications Commission: I’ve been called a ‘bullying bully’ for using my dogs
A federal agency that regulates communications on behalf of the government has fired a communications manager for using a dog to verbally abuse another person in a phone call.
The agency’s Office of Inspector General found that Lisa Smith, who was hired by the Federal Communications Commissioner in April, made the comments while making calls to a family member.
Smith made her comments on a call to a member of the family about a school district that has been sued by the family’s daughter.
The caller, who is not named, asked her to explain the district’s policies about using dogs to interact with children and pets.
“When the subject was raised about using a school-aged dog for interacting with children, the OIG observed that the employee responded by making a reference to bullying,” according to the inspector general’s report, which was released Wednesday.
When the Oig inquired about the comments, the agency confirmed Smith’s account and said she had violated a policy that requires employees to respond appropriately to “an inappropriate, aggressive, or threatening message or communication.”
“In response to her comments, we asked her whether she understood the language and tone of the call and whether she could provide a written explanation of how she intended the comments to be understood and whether her comments had the intent to cause emotional distress,” the inspector chief wrote.
“Ms. Smith’s responses to our inquiries indicated that she had not understood the nature of the interaction and was making an inappropriate and abusive statement about another person.”
The IG report, however, didn’t specify the nature or seriousness of the complaint against Smith.
The complaint alleged Smith used a dog in a way that was “inappropriate, aggressive and offensive” and that she did so in a manner that was designed to “trigger emotional distress.”
Smith was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
The inspector general report did not provide any further information about the complaint.
The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At the same time that the IG report was released, the FCC’s inspector general said the agency had investigated more than 200 complaints against Smith related to the use of dogs in the workplace.
In one case, the inspector’s office discovered that Smith had used a small dog in her vehicle to interact and harass a female coworker during an incident at a Verizon office.
According to the IG, the employee filed a complaint about the incident with Verizon, but was told that “the matter had been referred to the Office of Compliance, which had the responsibility for handling the complaint.”
In another instance, the IG reported that Smith used her personal cellphone to make an inappropriate comment about a female co-worker while on a visit to a Verizon facility, according to a transcript of an audio recording provided to the FCC.
Another incident occurred while Smith was on a Verizon trip to a company that was building a wireless data network.
The incident was discovered by a former employee, who asked Smith to stop using her cellphone to send the company a text message about a phone bill, according the transcript.
A third case involved a conversation between Smith and a former Verizon employee who asked her about the company’s wireless data plan and Smith allegedly made the remark, “I would be happy to put up my phone bill to see if it would go up,” according the IG.
And the IG found that Smith allegedly used a personal cellphone on a private plane while she and another person went on a tour of a Verizon research facility.
Despite the IG’s report on the Smith incident, the Federal Communication Commission declined to issue a reprimand against Smith, according a spokesperson.
This story has been updated to include a statement from the FCC and a statement about the agency’s use of dog communications.