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Wrongful Termination Complaint Nets $250,000 Settlement

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 | 2225 | 3 | 20 min read

A former investigator for the California Department of Industrial Relations accepted a $250,000 settlement to dismiss a wrongful termination complaint that alleged she was fired for cooperating with an investigation into the agency’s former director, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Christine Baker

Christine Baker

The Alameda County Superior Court on June 30 entered Socorro Tongco’s request to dismiss the complaint she filed in December. Court documents don’t describe terms of the settlement, but the Bee reports that the state will pay Tongco a quarter-million dollars.

Tongco, in her complaint, alleged she was fired for taking part in an investigation into illegal hiring practices at the DIR.

The California Department of Human Resources in January provided a Notice of Adverse Action that claimed Tongco was fired for dishonesty, misuse of state property and neglect of duty.

The state Attorney General’s office denied allegations in the complaint and said all conduct by the DIR “was justified under the circumstances as having been a function of reasonable business decisions and judgment.”

Less than a month later, state Auditor Elaine Howle released a report alleging former DIR Director Christine Baker attempted to identify and retaliate against suspected whistleblowers and people she suspected were cooperating with a nepotism investigation.

The auditor and the State Personnel Board have both questioned the legitimacy of some personnel decisions made while Baker was director, including the hiring and promotion of Baker’s daughter.

Baker retired in March 2018. Former Gov. Jerry Brown in January appointed her to the Fraud Assessment Commission.

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