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Former veteran services officer sues SLO County

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After resigning under mysterious circumstances, former SLO County Veteran Services Officer Dana Cummings is claiming that his attempt to land a new job was sabotaged by the county’s top administrator.

Cummings filed a lawsuit against SLO County and Dan Buckshi, the county administrator, Feb. 2. The lawsuit claims that both violated a non-disparagement agreement with Cummings when he left the county, preventing him from getting other jobs.

Cummings voluntarily resigned in 2015 following the release of audit report that raised questions about the handling of cash and donations to the County Veterans Service Organization (VSO). Neither Cummings nor the county publicly stated a specific reason behind Cummings’ departure. The lawsuit claims that his resignation came after “ongoing personality conflicts” with Buckshi, who Cummings alleged was intent on pushing him out of the position.

“This culminated in a work environment that was not conductive to success,” the lawsuit stated. “[Cummings] began to believe that he could not properly serve the county’s veterans because of the hostile work environment created by Buckshi.”

But despite the alleged non-disparagement agreement between the involved parties, Cummings found himself unable to get jobs at other VSOs, a problem he blames on Buckshi.

“He had several successful interviews and advanced in the interview process in a number of counties, only to mysteriously fail to receive an offer once the potential employer began checking references,” the lawsuit stated. “This raised suspicions that defendants [SLO] County and Buckshi were abiding by the terms of the settlement agreement.”

The lawsuit also claims that Cummings was offered and had accepted a full-time position as veterans services coordinator for Stanislaus County in March 2016, and even received a congratulatory phone call from one of the county officials, only to have the offer revoked just days later. The lawsuit claims the job offer fell through after Buckshi allegedly contacted the Stanislaus County administrator and recommend against hiring Cummings.

County Attorney Rita Neal said the lawsuit is being reviewed, and that the county intends to “rigorously defend” itself against it.

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