Jury Awards $824K To Pasadena City Employee Who Suffered Retaliation For Defending Colleague
– Jury verdict vindicates Richard Thompson who was retaliated against for testifying on behalf of a colleague who was suing the City of Pasadena for gender discrimination –
PASADENA, Calif. (June 12, 2019) – Los Angeles-based trial firm McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, obtained a jury verdict in the amount of $824,000 on behalf of Richard Thompson, a former Department of Water and Power employee for the City of Pasadena who was retaliated against for writing a favorable performance evaluation recommending the promotion of a female employee who was suing the City for gender discrimination, and then testifying on her behalf at trial. As a result, the City demoted him, altered his chain of command and took away his office and city vehicle. Additionally, City management overtly stopped supporting Thompson by allowing his subordinate employees to undermine his authority, criticize and humiliate him, and failing to investigate Thompson’s complaints of these actions or take any corrective measures. Thompson was forced to take a stress-related leave of absence and later resigned.
“The City of Pasadena has a duty to follow the law and protect its employees from retaliation and harassment, not engage in it,” said Patrick McNicholas, partner at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP. ”Richard Thompson was an employee of the City for 25 years, and because he didn’t agree to lie under oath to protect the City in a separate lawsuit, he was humiliated, harassed and ostracized to the point where he was forced to resign.”
The lawsuit alleges the following:
In 2012, Pasadena Water and Power employee Aurora Isabel filed a lawsuit against the City and her supervisor alleging gender discrimination and failure to promote. As a result of the filing of the lawsuit, the City approached Thompson about becoming her supervisor, with the implication that she “was a problem child.” She was transferred under Thompson’s supervision in April 2014.
On September 9, 2015, Thompson wrote Isabel a favorable performance evaluation and recommended her for promotion. This positive evaluation, in essence, reported that Isabel had been discriminated against, creating a piece of evidence for her case and making Thompson a witness for her lawsuit. In direct retaliation for providing this evidence, the City issued a verbal warning to Thompson, and attempted to damage his credibility by subjecting Thompson to several false administrative investigations.
On November 17, 2015, the day before Thompson was set to testify at Isabel’s trial, he was summoned to meet with his supervisor and two city attorneys, who instructed him to say that he did not write Isabel’s performance evaluation recommending her for promotion, and that she did.
On November 18, 2015, Thompson testified truthfully at Isabel’s trial, and her case was ultimately resolved in 2017 for $250,000. As direct result of Thompson’s actions, the City retaliated against him in an effort to force him to retire. Management overtly stopped supporting him and allowed subordinate employees to undermine his authority, criticize and humiliate him. Management failed to investigate or take any corrective action regarding the insubordination. Ultimately, the City moved Thompson under the supervision of the assistant general manager, Shan Kwan, who was the named individual in Isabel’s lawsuit. Upon this reassignment, the City also took away Thompson’s office, city vehicle and all of his direct reports.
Due to the stress caused by the City’s retaliation, Thompson was forced to take a stress-related leave of absence in October 2016. Thompson had filed several complaints of retaliation, discrimination and harassment, which the City failed to properly investigate, and instead notified Thompson in January 2017 that the investigation resulted in his allegations being “unfounded.” On May 20, 2017, Thompson resigned.
McNicholas & McNicholas, a Los Angeles-based plaintiff’s trial law firm, represents clients in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, employment law, class actions, sexual abuse and other consumer-oriented matters such as civil rights, aviation disasters and product liability. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, McNicholas & McNicholas has been trying cases to jury verdict on behalf of its clients for more than five decades.
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10866 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
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