Bridget Bryden, a former dispatcher for the Santa Barbara Police Department, recently filed a lawsuit against the department, claiming she was fired in 2016 as retaliation for alerting higher-ups in the department about unsafe working conditions.
Bryden claimed her firing was a result of her complaints that the qualification standards for new dispatchers to the unit were dropped measurably so that it would be easier for the department to fill positions that had been chronically vacant. According to Bryden, the new hires in the dispatch unit were a safety risk because they were not sufficiently capable of multitasking.
City attorneys claim Bryden quit her job after she was informed she was the subject of an internal affairs investigation. They then sought to have the case dismissed, arguing there were no triable issues of fact. However, Judge Colleen Sterne rejected that argument and allowed the case to move forward, saying there is question as to whether Bryden did, in fact, quit her job or was terminated.
For her part, Bryden said the internal affairs investigation into her was launched shortly after she blew the whistle on the unsafe hiring practices, which city attorneys portray as a coincidence. The judge allowing the lawsuit to go to trial said the timing of the investigation was suspect.
Pressuring to quit a form of retaliation, wrongful termination
Even if an employer does not directly fire an employee, it could still under the category of wrongful termination if the employee was pressured into quitting due to harassment or unfair treatment as retaliation for blowing the whistle on internal wrongdoing.
If you become aware of fraudulent activity or other forms of wrongdoing in your business or organization, reach out to a skilled whistleblower lawyer with Kardell Law Group as soon as possible.