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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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I was forced to retire from the State of California in 2009

Customer Question

I was forced to retire from the State of California in 2009 because of a bad boss. Recently, I was planning to come back to work as a retired annuitant with the State. I reviewed my Personnel File and found out that this lady boss inserted a deragotory document in my file called "Letter of Instrction" outlining how bad I was as an employee, i.e., she had something to show personnel in initiating disciplinary action in case I decided to return to work.

My last day on the job was her and her assistant verbally ganging on me in her office that resulted in me having tightening of my chest, like I was having astroke. I asked them to call 911 but they both ignored my plea. I ended up walking out of her office for me to make the 911 call myself in my cubicle.

In that Letter of Instruction, she blatantly perjured, claiming that she made the 911 call. This fact can easily be established by a transcript of the 911 tape.

My question: how do I proceed for me to get justice arising from this dishonest document, on top of the emotional and mental harassment and bullying I and 2 other disabled employees endured? (NOTE: We're all disabled and working under FLMA in 2008-09 and ended up retiring early rather than endanger our lives. I filed for Workmen's Comp and recently just got awarded for medical reimbursement.)
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 5 years ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

You would have a cause of action against your previous employer for defamation for making false and damaging statements about you in your personnel file.

The statute of limitations for defamation is normally only one year, but since you only discovered the letter recently, the statute could be tolled for your suit.

Unfortunately, you would have been able to file a complaint for discrimination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing for the discrimination that you were forced to endure, however, the statute of limitations is one year for a discrimination claim, so unfortunately the statute has run on your claim.

I wish I had better news to give you, but I hope you appreciate a direct and honest answer to your question.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I then need to hire a lawyer to plead my case? This is a public official who perjured on official documents. Is there any government agency to report to? I'm still in psychiatric meds due to the traumatic experience I have had at work.
Expert:  Joseph replied 5 years ago.
Yes, you would need to hire an attorney to plead your case.

Actually, the public offiical lied on official documents. Unfortunately, perjury is only committed in statements that are made under oath, such as statemeents made in court or depositions.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
snIf I invest funds in hiring a lawyer, what kind of outcome could I expect:

1) For this bad boss (a bully, a woman who used to work in the military and disliked men due to her sexual orientation) and

2) to myself (who lost a potentially higher retirement pay and now also may lose the potential of getting hired as a retired annuitant because of the negative and dishonest written review she had on my personnel file)?

Would I get compensated for her ruining my reputation? Would she be written up, demoted or fired?

Please note that she gave hard time (retaliated because of the complaint we (about 10 of us) submitted through the union) to myself and other staff who are disabled. Ironically too, we work for the Department of Rehabilitation with the principal mission of advocating for the disabled.

Expert:  Joseph replied 5 years ago.
What month were you forced to retire?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I retired starting July 1, 2009. NOTE: There were 2 others at work who opted to retire even if, unlike me, they're not fully vested yet.
I was on medical leave (psychiatric) for 3 months (since the 911 incident the last Friday of February, 2009 until June 30, 2009). My last position is a professional one (Associate Governmental Analyst) a step away to management.
Expert:  Joseph replied 5 years ago.
Unfortunately, the statute of limtiations has run on your claims, since its two years for personal injury, including defamation, unless the defmation continued after you retired, or you didn't discover it until less than two years ago.

Regardless of whether you hire an attorney, it would definitely be an uphill battle to get any damages due to the statute of limtiations and the difficulty in providing defamation.

You would have had a cause of action for discrimination on the basis of disability, but the statute of limtiations on that is one year, so, unfortunately, it has also passed.

It would be unlikely that any action would be taken against your former boss, even if you were to prevail on a defamation cause of action.

At most, if the information is found to be false, it could be removed from your personnel file, but you would need proof that the information is false in order to prevail on this cause of action.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I discovered the defamation LESS than 2 years ago. What will this do to my case?
Expert:  Joseph replied 5 years ago.
That would significantly help your case, since it would toll the statute of limitations, but as I mentioned above, defamation is a difficult cause of action to prevail upon.

You could find an attorney to represent you online here

If you do hire an attorney to represent you, I would suggest that you hire an attorney on a contingency basis, so you only have to compensate the attorney if you receive a settlement or a verdict in your favor.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
If nothing else, just to expose the presence of a bully (and a violent person) in this agency, can I write a letter to the legislators that oversee the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). If they investigated, they will find out that:

1. The Director (appointed)ignored direct pleas to him by her targetss
1a. We're aware too that we were made scapegoats (and hired this attack dog) to show that they did some house cleaning. The director almost did not get appointed because someone spoke at the confirmation hearing regarding the inefficacy of the program (Business Enterprise for the Blind)
2. The Labor Section heard the case of over 10 complainants and just recommended an anger management class to this manager. She was at that time still on probation and a caring and sensitive management could have done better
3. This manager used her newly-hired assistant (a non-practicing lawyer)to indirectly retaliate on us (post Labor Section decision)
4. This assistant, feeling remorseful about the almost daily harassing tactics he did to me, felt remorseful one day and confided, "You know, I have a boss too"
5. We found out later that this assistant manager filed for Workmen's Comp himself and ended up leaving the department (even before his probationary period)
6. The house cleaning went us far as letting go of a very competent Deputy Director (Tony Candela) I have a gut feeling this bad manager had something to do with it because of her sneaky, lying nature.

We are still hurting from this experience at work (how do you want to be treated like a 10 year old?) that we don't hesitate to go to the press only to tell our story and for powers that be to realize the cost and consequences of bullying at work, just like in schools.
Expert:  Joseph replied 5 years ago.
Yes, you could definitely write a letter to the legislators that oversee the Department of Rehabilitation and request that they conduct an investigation into the illegal practices that are going on there.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Can I hire a lawyer and do the letter-writing at the same time?
Expert:  Joseph replied 5 years ago.
Yes, you could hire an attorney and do the letter-writing at the same time.