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JD, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
BA, University of Southern California
Did You Know
Hearing Officer Upholds Demotion of IT Manager of Fire Department (2023) – In a case handled by Jeff Stockley of our Los Angeles Office, a hearing officer upheld the demotion of a Fire Department’s IT Manager. After the Department received a volume of complaints over the years alleging a hostile work environment under the Manager’s leadership, the Department hired an attorney to investigate. The investigation found that as the head of IT, the Manager failed to provide sufficient, effective, or responsible leadership. Rather, the Manager allowed a hostile work environment to grow and fester both by his own actions and omissions, and by failing to address the behavioral issues of two of his direct subordinates who supervised many others. The Manager allowed this to happen despite employees submitting numerous complaints about the work environment and speaking directly to him. By letting the hostile work environment persist, workplace dysfunction took over and resulted in employees crying at work, taking stress leave, dreading coming to work, and fearing retaliation if they complained. The hearing officer found that the Manager’s failure to address the known and documented behavioral issues in his division supported his demotion. The hearing officer upheld the demotion and, in fact, added that she would have fired the Manager if she could. Additionally, the hearing officer recommended that the Manager not be allowed to supervise any employees throughout the remainder of his career with the Department.
Public Employee Termination Appeal (2015) – A classified employee at a community college was terminated for excessive tardiness and absences, improper personal use of computers, insubordination, and dereliction of duty. The employee asserted that he was given insufficient notice of his performance deficiencies and insufficient direction. An independent hearing officer upheld the termination finding that the employee failed to present any evidence to support a lack of notice or that he had a serious medical condition such that medical leave should have been provided.
Perez v. City of Westminster Police Department (2016) – In a published decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s determination that a police officer’s procedural rights under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (Government Code section 3300 et seq. or “POBR”) were not violated when he was removed from the SWAT Team, Honor Guard, and not assigned any trainees as a Field Training Officer (“FTO”) after a decision was made to overturn his proposed termination.
Lopez v. Imperial County Sheriff’s Office (2008) – Two correctional officers appealed a Personnel Board ruling upholding their terminations based upon a tie vote by the Board. The correctional officers argued that their terminations should be overturned on a tie vote. The Appellate Court rejected that position affirming the trial court’s ruling that the terminations were not to be overturned but the officers were to receive a new hearing.
Police Officer Termination Appeals (2013) – An independent hearing officer upheld the terminations of two police officers involved in an off-duty altercation at a bar. In 2012, the officers traveled to Bridgeport, California for a fishing trip. While at a bar, the father of one of the officers became engaged in an altercation with another patron at the bar. One of the officers tackled the patron and the patron alleged that he was struck and kicked while he was being held down. The bartender called 911 but the officers left the scene of the fight and proceeded went to another bar across the street before deputies arrived. The officers were terminated for being dishonest regarding their participation in the event, conduct unbecoming an officer, and obstruction of the deputies’ criminal investigation.
Police Officer Termination Appeal (2011) – An off-duty police officer failed to provide assistance to a woman at a pool who was sexually assaulted and subjected to a barrage of racist taunts by one of the officer’s friends. The officer obstructed the investigation conducted by responding deputies and was dishonest with the deputies during their questioning of him. The officer was terminated for conduct unbecoming an officer and dishonesty. His termination was upheld by both the Personnel Commission and the City Council. Subsequently, the officer filed a writ of mandate with the Superior Court seeking to have the termination overturned but the writ was denied.
Rosario v. LA Department of Water & Power (2022) – Won a complete defense verdict for the City following a nearly three-week jury trial in which Plaintiff, a former electrician, alleged claims of disability discrimination. During the trial, LCW proved that the City did engage in the interactive process with the Plaintiff following an on-the-job injury, was unable to accommodate him, and terminated his employment for legitimate reasons related solely to his need for excessive supervision. Plaintiff sought over $1,000,000 in economic damages alone, and the jury returned the defense verdict only a few hours after closing argument.
Police Officer Termination Appeal (2019) – A police officer was terminated for assault of a fellow, female police officer and other charges. The officer filed a request for an administrative appeal which was heard by an Arbitrator. After the evidentiary hearing, the Arbitrator found in favor of the officer and recommended that he be reinstated with no discipline. The City overturned the Arbitrator’s recommendation and upheld termination of the officer. The officer appealed his termination via a Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandate. The Superior Court denied the officer’s Petition, and upheld the City’s termination of the officer finding that the penalty of termination was not an abuse of discretion.
Lee v. City of Montebello (2016) – Summary judgment obtained in this first amendment retaliation and Section 1983 due process case.
Bonner v. Occidental College, et. al. (2016) – Representing the College in a lawsuit involving 1) Age Discrimination; 2) Age Harassment; 3) Disability Discrimination; 4) Disability Harassment; 5) Failure to Accommodate Disability; 6) Failure to Engage in the Interactive Process; 7) Failure to Prevent Discrimination and Harassment; 8) Failure to Correct and Remedy Discrimination and Harassment; 9) Retaliation in Violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA); 10) Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy; 11) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; and 12) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress. We successfully disposed of the disability-related causes of action via demurrer. The Plaintiff then agreed to settle this matter.
Perez v. City of Westminster Police Department (2014) – In a bench trial, a police officer alleged that the City of Westminster Police Department violated the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (“POBRA”) by not providing him with all the admonitions required under the POBRA for officers who are suspected of misconduct. The trial court ruled that the officer did not prevail in proving his case for, among other things, he had not established that the claimed POBRA violations were intentional or that he was damaged by the violations.
Los Angeles Unified School District v. Los Angeles Unified School District Personnel Commission (2011) – The firm represented Petitioner LAUSD seeking a writ of mandate to overturn the reinstatement of an attorney named by the LAUSD Personnel Commission. LAUSD asserted that the Commission’s order reinstating the lawyer to her position with LAUSD was an abuse of discretion given her admitted and repeated breaches of professional conduct. The Court found that reasonable minds could not differ that the lawyer had been warned, admonished, supervised and given opportunities for improvement in the very areas in which she failed to perform. Reinstatement, given the lawyer’s history of non-performance and her continued failure to acknowledge any need to change or improve, would have exposed the public to the risk of injury and the school district to the risk of incurring liability.
Moon v. City of Downey (2010) – Summary judgment obtained in this sexual orientation discrimination, harassment and retaliation FEHA case involving a City firefighter.
Silberman v. Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (2009) – In an age and religious discrimination case, judgment was entered in favor of the employer disposing of all of Plaintiff’s claims resulting from a prior reorganization leading to layoffs.
Booth v. City of Pomona (2007) – The Los Angeles Superior Court granted Anti-SLAPP motions striking the entire defamation and wrongful termination complaint brought by a City employee who had applied to be a peace officer within the City.