Bullying Costs Soar to $41.6 Million
By Patrick Monett-Shaw : stoplhhdownsize – excerpt – (including notes on data)
Update on Civil Grand Jury Whistleblower Report
Imagine being a public employee who lacks basic First Amendment protections to use free speech on matters of “public concern” guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Thirteen years after voters passed Prop “C” in 2003 requiring the Board of Supervisors to enact adequate protections to curtail retaliation against City employees who file complaints involving improper government activity and matters of public concern, progress has inched forward over the past year — but just barely.
During the past year there’s been more “collateral damage” to City employees who faced bullying in one form or another in a whole host of prohibited personnel practices already proscribed by law.
Cost of Retaliation Against Employees Keeps Soaring
In May 2013, the Westside Observer carried my first article on the high costs of retaliation and bullying of City employees. In July 2015, I wrote an update on the subject in “Retaliators Keep Their City Jobs” for the Observer…
Author’s Comments: My new article features an update on the costs of bullying City employees via various prohibited personnel practices. The bar chart above shows (from left to right) two separate reporting periods, while the third bar on the right shows the cumulative total amount to date, involving the costs of settlements awarded by the City Attorney’s Office, additional settlements approved by the Board of Supervisors, and the costs of City Attorney office time and expenses trying to block employee lawsuits against the City…(more)
Yes, lawsuit settlements and costs have soared to a total of $41.6 million since I first started reporting on this in 2013, after Dr. Derek Kerr first uncovered the first 103 such lawsuits in October 2012.
As the article shows (in the “Notes on the Data” section at the end of the article), in the 12-year period before Ed Lee became Mayor, there were just 121 such lawsuits filed between 1999 and 2010, but under Ed Lee as Mayor, there have been 154 such lawsuits filed during his 5.5-year tenure as Mayor — representing a 27.3% increase in the number of such lawsuits filed during Lee’s tenure.
The 27 types of lawsuits filed are of concern, as are the top-five City Departments having the most lawsuits filed by their departmental employees. The Police Department is, not too surprisingly, a leader of the pack.
The article also explores pending amendments introduced by Board of Supervisors president London Breed on June 14 to strengthen the City’s Whistleblower Protection Ordinance (WPO), in response to the Civil Grand Jury’s report on the Ordinance in June 2015. Of note, although it escaped the attention of the Grand Jury, the City’s Campaign and Government Conduct Code does not provide basic First Amendment anti-retaliation protections for City employees who exercise their free speech rights to speak on matters of public concern, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled federal, state, and municipal employees absolutely have First Amendment rights concerning speaking freely about matters of public concern, and even though those same protections for City employees are already incorporated in San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance. Breed’s proposed amendments need to explicitly incorporate and enshrine in the WPO the same protections stated in the Sunshine Ordinance, as Federal Court Judge Claudia Wilken has noted. City employees deserve no less.
Patrick Monette-Shaw , Columnist/Reporter Westside Observer Newspaper
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