Officers lodge two claims of retaliation against Arroyo Grande
January 7, 2013
An Arroyo Grande Police officer says the city has failed to follow due process in dealing with a claim of retaliation, and the police officers’ union also has lodged an accusation of retaliation.
On Dec. 31, Michelle Cota filed a lawsuit in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court against the city and its police department for failing to follow the city’s Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the police officers’ union in dealing with a grievance following a claim of sexual harassment.
In a suit filed in late 2011, Cota accused Chief Steven Annibali and former Commander John Hough of retaliating against her and two other women who complained that former Sergeant Barry Bridge sexually harassed them.
She also lodged a disciplinary appeal, which according to the MOA would require binding arbitration.
The lawsuit says City Manager Steve Adams unilaterally selected a person to oversee the hearing and determine an outcome, a breach of the MOA. The lawsuit asks the court to force the city to comply with its MOA and enter into binding arbitration in dealing with Cota’s workplace retaliation claim.
In another allegation of retaliation, the Arroyo Grande Police Officers Association on Dec. 20 filed a notice of unfair practices against the City of Arroyo Grande, claiming it has violated California’s labor relation laws. This followed six counteroffers the union made, to which city officials failed to respond.
In the claim filed with the Public Employment Relations Board, the association contends the city retaliated against the union over its decision to hire an attorney to represent it during contract negotiations. The union accuses Adams of threatening officers with a 3.5 percent pay cut if they exercise their rights and hire an attorney to oversee the negotiation process.
In its claim, the union is asking the Public Employment Relations Board to order the city not to implement the pay cut and to reimburse the union for all attorney’s fees and costs.