SLO County denies allegations in retaliation lawsuit
April 17, 2012
San Luis Obispo County officials said they are not liable for civil damages sought by a former sheriff deputy who contends he was retaliated against and eventually terminated after he reported multiple abuses of policy by department heads.
In a response filed Monday, county officials argue that the sheriff’s department terminated former deputy Dale Strobridge because he illegally accessed confidential employee information for his own personal gain and that Strobridge’s claims of retaliation are untrue.
Specifically, county officials said Strobridge used personal information about another deputy to prove, as part of a grievance, that he was not evaluated under the same criteria as the other deputy.
Strobridge filed his civil suit March 13 in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. He included the county and both former Sheriff Pat Hedges and current Sheriff Ian Parkinson as defendants.
In 2005, Strobridge reported the illicit taping of Chief Deputy Gary Hoving to the county’s former human resources director, Deb Hossli, Strobridge says in his complaint. As a result, Hoving filed a lawsuit against the county and received a $660,000 settlement.
In late 2009, Strobridge discovered confidential deputy information such as reprimands available for viewing by sworn deputies on the department’s systems z drive.
According to his lawsuit, Strobridge downloaded the files onto his thumb drive and reported the issue to Tami Douglas-Schatz, the county’s director of human resources.
However, the county contends that Strobridge admitted in interviews that he never told Douglas-Schatz about discovering the confidential information.
On Feb. 25, 2011, shortly after Parkinson was sworn in, he fired Strobridge for downloading the information and ordered him to hand over his thumb drive, the lawsuit says.