20-year City of Compton employee suffers discrimination, retaliation and termination. $655K. Los Angeles County.

Summary

City of Compton's HR director is terminated; claims retaliation after reporting discrimination and harassment by city council member.

The Case

  • Case Name: Kareemah Mateen-Bradford v. City of Compton, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: LA Superior Court / TC026769
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, June 11, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, August 06, 2012
  • Type of Action: Discrimination, Sexual, Emotional Distress, Employment, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Maurice A. Leiter
  • Plaintiffs:
    Kareemah Mateen-Bradford, 54.
  • Defendants:
    City of Compton
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $655,000
  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $655,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 10 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 hours.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Memorandum of costs. Statutory attorney fees.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Gladius Law, APC by Alyssa K. Schabloski, Santa Monica.

    Simon Law Group by Siannah Collado Boutte, Hermosa Beach.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Ring Bender LLP by Norman A. Dupont and Patrick Bobko, Costa Mesa.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Anthony Reading, Ph.D., psychology, Beverly Hills.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Stefanie Peters, Ph.D., psychology.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was a 20-year employee of the City of Compton, who was promoted from Accounting Technician to Director of Human Resources. She received very positive performance evaluations as Human Resources Director in 2006, and did not have any subsequent performance reviews.

    On January 5, 2011, she reported to then-City Manager Willie Norfleet that she believed then-City Council member Barbara Calhoun was discriminating against and harassing her. The alleged discrimination and harassment were due in part to negative comments about her performance made during the televised City Council meeting on the evening of January 4, 2011. That same day (Jan. 5, 2011), plaintiff was placed on paid administrative leave.

    City Manager Norfleet issued plaintiff a Notice of Intent to Terminate on September 1, 2011, alleging multiple performance deficiencies. On September 14, 2011, City Manager Norfleet presided over plaintiff's Skelly hearing and issued the Notice of Final Determination (the termination letter) that same day. Plaintiff was terminated effective September 15, 2011. Plaintiff attempted to obtain other work and had an offer from the City of Inglewood, which was later withdrawn due to budget constraints. Plaintiff was unable to secure other employment.

    In September 2014, plaintiff had an administrative appeal hearing before retired Justice Candace Cooper. On October 20, 2014, Justice Cooper determined the City did not have sufficient cause to terminate plaintiff and ordered her reinstated with back pay. Plaintiff returned to work in November 2014, and continued working through the first trial in April 2016. This case was tried on FEHA gender discrimination and retaliation theories in April 2016. Plaintiff successfully appealed the defense verdict. The case was re-tried over 10 days in May-June 2019.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff's termination was in retaliation for reporting discrimination and harassment by City Council member Barbara Calhoun.  That the alleged performance deficiencies were false and pretextual. Plaintiff also alleged gender discrimination based primarily on differential treatment in the termination process. The jury did not find gender discrimination.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The City contended that the termination was not motivated by unlawful discrimination or retaliation; rather, the City reasonably believed the termination was justified. The City contended that it may have been wrong about having cause for the termination but did not have a gender-based discriminatory or retaliatory motive or intent.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Emotional distress-related damages from the termination through April 24, 2016.

Additional Notes

Damages were limited by the plaintiff because a second lawsuit for retaliation and other claims had been filed after the City placed plaintiff on administrative leave the day following the defense verdict on the first trial. Plaintiff made multiple settlement offers prior to the second trial, all of which were rejected.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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