Joanne Hoeper, formerly top attorney with the San Francisco city attorney’s office, has filed a wrongful termination claim against the city over her demotion and firing.
Hoeper alleges in her suit that the city of San Francisco paid plumbing contractors to do unnecessary repairs to private sewer lines. She claims that officials in the city attorney’s office approved the repairs, and that the scheme cost the city around $10 million over the course of ten years. An investigation was sparked by homeowner concerns regarding the quality of the contractors’ work and whether the work they were doing was really necessary.
While Hoeper’s probe was under way, the City Attorney, David Herrera, demoted Hoeper and shut down the investigation. She was fired not too long after. The basis of Hoeper’s lawsuit is that she lost her job because of her involvement in the sewer scheme investigation.
To prove wrongful termination in California, a plaintiff needs to show that the termination violated either the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or another statute. A plaintiff may also base a claim on the existence of a common law (non-statutory) cause of action, asserting that the wrongful termination was in violation of public policy. The FEHA and common law actions are complementary, not mutually exclusive. These California causes of action may be brought in addition to any possible federal causes of action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employee discrimination in private and Federal workplaces.
Any employee or employment applicant who believes he was wrongfully terminated may file a complaint with the California labor commissioner. Most complaints alleging wrongful termination must be filed within six months after the occurrence of the alleged discriminatory and/or retaliatory action.
Sacramento, CA 95821