|Who gets the best?|
US charity finance directors are being accused of buying better stationery and office supplies for themselves rather than their colleagues, according to a new $1 billion class-action lawsuit.
The civil action, filed yesterday in New York City, alleges that the directors of finance at some 15,000 US charities have conspired to deprive their colleagues of quality pens, paperclips, staplers and other office supplies.
None of the allegations in the suit have been proved in court.
The lead lawyer for the plaintiffs says the finance directors have been getting better supplies for years. Dibble Brewer says US charity workers have had enough.
“We have thousands of cases across the country where finance directors have bought jumbo paperclips for themselves and then insisted the rest of their colleagues use the smaller, cheaper ones,” said Brewer.
The lawsuit also claims that finance directors have consistently purchased fountain and rollerball pens for themselves, while asking other staff to use cheap, disposable ballpoint pens that come by the dozen.
“We have evidence from one of the largest charities in Metro that shows that the finance director bought a $32.00 Retro Limited Edition Pop Series Mom Tornado Rollerball Pen from Fahrney's Pens while she insisted that staff use the promotional pens she picked up from a pest control supplier,” said Brewer.
The plaintiffs say they plan to introduce evidence from charity finance conferences and publications which
show a pattern of deliberate purchasing. They point to the USA Charity Finance Fun conference is Las Vegas last year which ran a seminar in office supply spending entitled “Getting the best and sticking it to the rest.” A recent charity finance book, “How to be an arrogant charity finance professional”, devoted a whole chapter to the issue of buying better staplers than other staff.
Snidely says office supply stores are playing along. He noted that several of the largest US chains are now offering special, high-quality products just for charity finance directors. One such catalogue sells a special “Finance Leader Chair” that features top quality, luxurious leather upholstered seating surface appointed with refined details “that only a director of finance at a bustling charity deserves.”
In response the League of Charity Finance Directors issued a statement that the allegations in the lawsuit are “false and malicious” and vowed to contest the action in court.
“We don’t treat staff differently. We buy office supplies based on need,” said spokesperson Wendell Badhairdo. “It just so happens that our members need better pens and paperclips because of the important work they do and because it better suits their delicate sensibilities and tastes.”