Is Dee Torres-Hill a whistleblower?
October 30, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Claiming to be a whistleblower, the embattled former head of the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo’s homeless services program has sued the nonprofit, alleging CAPSLO retaliated against her for expressing safety concerns.
Earlier this year, CAPSLO demoted Torres-Hill, cut her pay and placed her on leave, prior to her leaving the nonprofit. Torres-Hill, who recently married County Supervisor Adam Hill, faced allegations of theft from numerous former employees of CAPSLO, who claimed she made personal use of gift cards and other items donated to the homeless.
She also allegedly sold items donated to the homeless without accounting for the revenue she collected, according to tax records.
In March, CAPSLO demoted Torres-Hill. She then took several months of leave, went back to work at CAPSLO for a short time before starting a nonprofit organization that claims to help homeless individuals find housing.
Shortly after CAPSLO demoted Torres-Hill, Hill engaged in a war of words with the agency.
The county supervisor sent his legislative aide to a homeless services meeting held at CAPSLO’s office. At the meeting, Hill’s aide read a prepared speech attacking CAPSLO executives by name, calling them “obnoxious and counterproductive” and warning that their egos would cause problems in the community.
CAPSLO responded with a letter to Board of Supervisors Chairman Bruce Gibson, saying that Hill was running a misinformation campaign in the community.
On Tuesday, Torres-Hill fired back against her former employer by filing a lawsuit in San Luis Obispo Superior Court alleging she is the victim of retaliation. She is seeking punitive damages for wrongful termination, defamation, libel, and infliction of emotional distress.
Torres-Hill alleges that her relationship with CAPSLO executives turned sour when she reported concerns about the safety and security of the Maxine Lewis homeless shelter and the Prado Day Center.
After she expressed the concerns during a meeting, CAPSLO demoted her, the lawsuit claims.
Previously, Torres-Hill has filed several lawsuits, the most recent one being last year against Mike
Brennler. Brennler, a private investigator, had assisted CalCoastNews in an investigation into Torres and CAPSLO.
A San Luis Obispo judge threw the lawsuit out of court, stating that it fit the criteria of a SLAPP lawsuit — one filed with the intent of infringing upon First Amendment rights or stifling public criticism.