“It is outrageous that Sonoma County’s Human Services Department is discriminating against the very population they exist to serve and even more outrageous that they fired an employee who insisted that they treat those individuals fairly” – Gary Gwilliam attorney Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli, & Brewer
Our firm, Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli, & Brewer, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Madeline Jen Kin, a former Sonoma County Human Services Department personnel manager who was fired due to her whistleblowing activities. The complaint was filed August 27, 2014 in Sonoma County Superior Court. Ms. Jen Kin had a solid background as a experienced human resources professional whose job responsibilities included managing employee discipline, performance, termination, and payroll.
Sonoma County Human Services Department: Mission and Values
The Sonoma County Human Services Department “Mission and Values” statement includes the “Director’s Goals” statement:
“Clients feel welcomed and get help to meet their needs. Staff feel valued, safe, and are happy to work at HSD. The community looks to HSD as a resource and values human services.”
Simply put, a major goal of the Human Services Department, and why it exists, is to help people with disabilities.
Whistleblower Allegations Against Sonoma County Human Services Department
“She (Ms. Kin) reported several times that she didn’t think they were treating employees with disabilities fairly and they told her ‘don’t find an accommodation, fire them,'” —Jayme Burns attorney Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli, & Brewer
In her lawsuit, Ms. Kin alleges she was fired for whistleblowing about her department’s treatment of disabled employees; specifically for reporting that disabled employees were being targeted for discipline and termination. The allegations that the Sonoma County Human Services Department, which exists to help people with disabilities, was discriminating against its own disabled employees is a sad and unacceptable irony.
Whistleblower Discipline and Dismissal
Two reported examples of why Ms. Kin felt compelled to report her boss Kiergan Pegg the Human Services Department Manager include:
· An employee was fired for violating a non-perfume policy even though the employee was forced to carry scented dryer sheets in order to mask an odor caused by her medication
· A male employee suffering from severe computer-related pain was fired prior to the specialized office equipment designed to relieve his pain was delivered to the office
Consequently, Ms. Kin reported Mr. Pegg for targeting disabled employees for discipline leading to termination. Prior to Ms. Kin’s report, Mr. Pegg had given her a glowing performance review. Within three weeks of being informed by Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator Taryn Young of Ms. Kin’s complaint, Mr. Pegg fired Ms. Jen Kin just short of her completing her one-year probation.