Was Paula Lopez discriminated against for being an alcoholic?

September 16, 2016

Paula Lopez

Former news anchor Paula Lopez Ochoa is suing the parent company of her former employers, Central Coast broadcasters KEYT and KCOY, arguing discrimination based on her race, sex and disability led to her firing. Lopez’s disability is alcoholism.

Ochoa was arrested twice in the last three years. She was also the subject of a missing person search.

On Sept. 2, attorney Janean Acevedo Daniels filed the suit on behalf of Ochoa in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. NPG of California is the defendant in the case.

The suit contains 17 complaints, including termination in violation of public policy, sex discrimination, race discrimination, disability discrimination and retaliation. Ochoa claims she was retaliated against for previously filing a discrimination complaint against KEYT.

Ochoa had complained that she was paid less than her white, male counterpart. She also complained about KEYT converting a makeup room into a studio, forcing her and other female employees to apply their makeup in the women’s bathroom.

The lawsuit alleges Ochoa was subjected to discrimination on a continuing basis between 2013 and Sept. 2015, when she was fired. Ochoa’s first arrest occurred in July 2013 and her second arrest took place in Sept. 2015.

During that period, Ochoa was demoted from KEYT to KCOY while her male counterpart maintained his position at KEYT at a higher wage, the suit states. Ochoa was also forced to sign a “Last Chance Agreement” under the threat of termination.

The agreement forced Ochoa to undergo random drug and alcohol testing, which violated her medical privacy rights, according to the lawsuit. Ochoa also alleges the last chance agreement led to her firing.

In July 2013, Ochoa was arrested near her Santa Barbara home on suspicion of driving under the influence. Earlier that year, she was reported missing by her family, which prompted a brief but intense search near her home.

On the evening of Sept. 6, 2015, Ochoa drove her Toyota Prius the wrong way on Highway 101. Sheriff’s deputies then found the Prius parked at a golf course in Goleta. When a sheriff’s deputy and a CHP officer tried to arrest her, she assaulted the officers.

Prosecutors said Ochoa drove with a blood alcohol content above .15 on the evening of her arrest. She refused to submit to a chemical test.

In April 2016, Ochoa pleaded no contest to one count of driving under the influence, two counts of delaying or resisting a peace officer, one count of refusing a chemical test and one count of battery on a peace officer. She faced 120 days in jail.

Lopez is married to retired Santa Barbara County judge Frank Ochoa. Frank Ochoa stepped down from the bench last year.

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This POS ought to be feeling lucky. I moved clean out of state to start a new biz with no crimes. Only to get outta state charged with total B.S. by a a Grover Beach realtor causing certain death to me and my pets. Yet no one cared we could not get back to Calif to clear name due to broken motor. Paula Lopez had backup! We have death to face due to slo judicial system,crooked realtor,crooked cops,crooked public defender. Help Paula while we chose death! CCN news refused help. TT news refused help. Ksby refused help! Bet u would not leave poor GUILTY Paula Lopez to DIE.

Translation please.

Paula was a star… and her gender, race, looks and community standing were tremendous assets for KEYT. She, and she alone blew it. The station held on to her through many previous embarrassing incidents over many years. The last one was the last straw. I hope Paula gets the help she needs, but her dismissal was not due to discrimination. Unless you consider firing a pitiful drunk as discrimination. Sad.

It’s becoming the way things are done. Screw up by your own actions and blame everyone else and don’t take any responsibility.

Her husband is a judge and knows how to work the system. He’s giving her this advice.

Wasn’t too disabled to work enough to buy the booze.

It’s wonderful being an employer in this day and age of no accountability or responsibility. You have to run your business like your employees are always looking for the golden ticket because of our liberal courts.

So sad that this is where we have gone. This poor person really needs some help. I’m sure that this will not be the last time that we hear about some of her endeavors. Hopefully she will not provide us with victims from the results of her dependencies and failures in life.

I guess she needs to get a 401 K somehow. After her husband divorces her what will she have? Her reputation is shot, just google her. Who will hire her? Her employment choices are going to be very slim. A lawsuit probably seemed like a way to make some money. I guess she did not think it through on how it would make her look even sleazier.

It seems like her 17 complaints might be a bit of a smoke screen so she doesn’t have to address the elephant in the room. She is a public figure representing a news agency and I think that when your public image becomes tarnished, your boss probably isn’t interested in you being the face of the nightly news. Gawd, her own husband probably stepped down because of her behavior.