Ex-CSD official alleges age discrimination

Deborah Kiley claims wrongful termination, suing CSD, previous manager and HR director
By: Eric Laughlin, Telegraph correspondent
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A woman who lost her managerial position at the El Dorado Hills Community Services District more than a year ago has filed a wrongful termination and age discrimination suit against the district and three of its top officials. Deborah G. Kiley, now 58, had worked her way up to support services supervisor and public information officer at the CSD by the time of her June 30, 2010 termination, after initially coming aboard as an administrative assistant in 2006. In her complaint filed with the El Dorado County Superior Court, Kiley names defendants to include the district, then general manager Wayne Lowery, assistant general manager Sandi Kukkola and human resources manager Tracey Lynn Lowry. The complaint alleges that on June 10, 2010, Kiley was told by Lowery that her position would be lost to a budgetary layoff and that her last day would be June 30, 2010. But according to the complaint, the layoff came just eight days after Kiley came forward to Tracey Lynn Lowry to report illegal drug use by CSD lifeguards. Five days later on June 15, 2010, Kiley alleges that Lowry called a staff meeting that she said the purpose was to be “damage control.” Lowry, according to Kiley, told the 20 staffers in attendance that Teri Gotro would be taking over the duties of support services supervisor. Gotro, according to the complaint, was supervisor of the lifeguards in question. Kiley said she attended the meeting even though her name had been deleted from the distribution list. Kiley also alleges that just days after being told her position would be cut for budgetary reasons, the district’s board of directors, on June 14, 2010, approved the upcoming year’s fiscal budget and both positions held by Kiley were preserved. After her June termination, Kiley returned on Aug. 10 for a meeting with Kukkola, CSD attorney Lindsay Moore, and CSD employee union President Jerry Copeland. The meeting was, according to the complaint, to address the union’s formal grievance filed on Kiley’s behalf. Kiley states that when Copeland inquired as to the reason of the layoff, Moore responded that it had been made for budgetary reasons and not “for cause.” Kukkola, according to the complaint, then responds that the decision for lay off Kiley was done in closed session by the district’s board. Kiley states that the district counsel could not produce any record of such a decision made by the board. She goes on to allege that when Copeland challenged that such actions must take place in open session, a special board meeting was hastily called to ratify the layoff, months after it had taken place. With regard to age discrimination, Kiley states that Gotro, who took over her duties upon termination, is 15 years her junior. Kiley also accuses all three defendants of making misrepresentations to her with regard to COBRA insurance coverage. She goes on to state that Lowery and Kukkola refused to give her a written or verbal recommendation to potential employers and that both made “mean and unnecessary” comments at her exit interview. Kiley adds that a year later, she’s applied for more than 40 job openings and is still unemployed. Her lawsuit comes at a time when CSD attorneys are busy handling the personnel matter relating to John Skeel, the general manager placed on paid administrative leave just months after being hired. Attempts were made to contact Tracey Lynn Lowry and Sandi Kukkola at the CSD offices Friday, but neither returned calls by press time. CSD attorney Robert Thurbon was also unavailable for comment.