News

City of Arroyo Grande settles 'whistle-blower' lawsuit

by

comment

Almost two years after an Arroyo Grande code enforcement officer, David Crockett, sued the city of Arroyo Grande over allegations of discrimination and wrongful termination--among other things--the self-professed whistle-blower has received $73,000 in a settlement from the city.

The suit alleged that Crockett, a retired police officer when he was hired as a code enforcement officer, was intimidated, harassed, and discriminated against after he gained a reputation as a whistle-blower.

The attorney representing Arroyo Grande, David Cumberland, said that the city admitted no wrongdoing with the Dec. 7 settlement. Officials, he said, decided that settling would be cheaper than contesting the matter in court.

Crockett couldn't be located. His attorney of record did not respond to repeated calls.

According to Crockett's lawsuit, filed in August of 2006, Crockett claimed that he was publicly berated and conspired against by city officials who wanted him to get fired or force him to resign.

All told, the amended complaint named four city employees and one City Council member as defendants. The allegations against the councilman were later dismissed.

Crockett worked for the city from 1998 until 2005.

During his final months, according to the complaint, he was on medical leave for reported work-related stress. His job was also changed from full to part-time status, a change Crockett believed was an attempt to force him out.

According to the lawsuit, during the first three years of his service, Crockett received good job reviews. But he said that changed after a department leadership change. Meanwhile, Crockett became convinced the city wasn't following its own rules in at least two cases, one of which involved a matter of fees assessed and then reduced against an elderly property owner, whose land was fallow and littered with debris. Crockett believed that the reduced fee amounted to a gift of public money, and was therefore illegal.

He also became convinced city officials were giving special treatment to a development that a city official allegedly had an interest in. He claimed that it was after he raised those concerns that he received a negative review.

Cumberland said the city denied any wrongdoing. No city employees were reprimanded as a result of Crockett's allegations.

Add a comment