A contentious lawsuit filed against a local nonprofit by a former employee and wife of a SLO County Supervisor ended in a settlement, according to court documents.
On Oct. 27, SLO Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbara signed paperwork noting that the lawsuit, filed by Dee Torres-Hill against Community Action Partnership San Luis Obispo, had reached a settlement. LaBarbara ordered the case dismissed as of Dec. 11, 2015.
Torres-Hill, former CAPSLO director of homeless services and wife of 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against her former employer in October 2014. The lawsuit accused the organization and Torres-Hill’s superiors of harassment, libel, and wrongful termination, among other charges.
According to the lawsuit, the alleged retaliation against Torres-Hill began in October 2013, after she began raising questions about staffing and safety at Prado Day Center and the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter to her superiors. Torres brought up the issues multiple times in January, February, and March, eventually leading to a “heated” March 3 meeting where Torres-Hill was allegedly reminded that she was an employee of CAPSLO and told to “remember that and examine her loyalties,” according to the lawsuit.
Shortly after that meeting, on March 13, CAPSLO announced that that the Homeless Services Division was being reorganized, and that three employees were being demoted, including Torres-Hill. The suit alleged that the retaliation against Torres-Hill continued after the demotion, eventually intensifying to the point where it “became nearly impossible to perform the work she loved with no support from her superiors.”
“[Torres-Hill] felt isolated and humiliated,” the lawsuit stated. “She was shunned, spoken to dismissively, and aggressively mismanaged.”
The lawsuit alleged that the retaliation was so bad that Torres-Hill’s doctor actually removed her from the workplace and advised her not to return to the environment in June 2014.
Court documents revealed few details about the settlement. In a written response to questions from New Times, Torres-Hill said she was not legally allowed to discuss its specifics.
“I am very happy that my lawsuit has been settled,” Torres-Hill, now a director for another local nonprofit, SLO Housing Connection, wrote.
Jim Famalette, CAPSLO’s chief operations officer, also declined to comment of the settlement.
“We don’t generally comment on litigation,” he said.