Retaliation Lawsuit Against Stanislaus Union School District

Mar 7, 2023 — by Chris Olsen


Olsen Law Offices announced on March 8, 2023 that it has a pending case against Stanislaus Union School District for retaliation. The case is currently pending in Stanislaus County Superior Court, case number CV-21-004144.

Olsen Law Offices represents a former employee, E. Shelton, who alleges the following: the Covid-19 pandemic hit Stanislaus Union School District hard in March 2020. Like nearly every public and private entity in the United States, Stanislaus Union School District struggled to understand what was happening, how to mange classes safely and effectively, how to prevent and/or stop the spread of the disease, and most importantly, how to manage the physical environments of their class rooms to ensure the safety of the children that attended its schools. By July 2020, California had set aside special funds to assist public schools to secure personal protective equipment and engage in other activities to make the schools safe. Shortly after these funds were announced, Nathalie Wells, Stanislaus Union School District’s Chief Business Official, handed Shelton a proposal that she wanted him to review. As the Chief Business Official, one of Well’s job duties is to approve and release funds for school projects. Shelton alleges that he was not familiar with the company that provided the proposal—Bastion Consulting. But he did recognize the name of the individual identified as the chief executive of Bastion—Whitney Wells, who happens to be Nathalie’s wife. Shelton checked with the California Secretary of State’s website and learned that Bastion Consulting had been formed only seven days earlier and that its official address was his superior’s home address. Shelton alleges that he was concerned this proposal would violate Stanislaus Union School District’s conflict of interest laws. Shelton brought the alleged conflict of interest to a school board member, who agreed that the proposal presented a conflict of interest. Shelton alleges that Stanislaus Union School District and Nathalie Wells orchestrated a campaign to silence Shelton. Stanislaus Union School District alleged Shelton was failing to perform certain job duties and it presented him with two choices: 1) accept a demotion to a position he held 15 years earlier at only half the salary he was currently earning; or 2) resign. Shelton stated he did not want to resign and he wanted to continue working until he reached 30 years of employment and would thus retire. He also declined to accept a demotion. Shelton asked if there were any other options. Stanislaus Union School District allegedly ignored Shelton’s request about additional options and immediately suspended him pending an investigation. Shelton alleges that Stanislaus Union School District ignored his concerns about Well’s potential conflict of interest.

After completing certain mandatory administrative steps, Shelton filed a complaint with the Stanislaus Superior Court. Shelton alleged seven causes of action: 1) violation of state constitutional right to freedom of speech and to petition; 2) intentional infliction of emotional distress; 3) retaliatory discharge in violation of public policy; 4) violation of Education Code, section 44114; 5) violation of Education Code 44113; 6) violation of Labor Code, section 1102.5 (a) and (e) (whistleblower); and 7) violation of Labor Code, section 1102.5 (b) and (e).

Shelton seeks to recover the wages he would have earned but for Stanislaus Union School District’s alleged unlawful conduct, among other economic damages. Shelton seeks to recover for emotional distress. Finally, Shelton wishes to send the message that the public employees cannot misallocate public funds for private gain.

Stanislaus Union School District has denied the allegations set forth above and denies that Shelton is entitled to recover any damages.

About Olsen Law Offices, APC: Olsen Law Offices specializes in employment litigation in all areas of employment law. Olsen Law Offices has extensive experience litigating matters concerning wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment and hostile work environment, workplace defamation, gender discrimination, race discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, and disability discrimination. Moreover, Olsen Law Offices has extensive experience in wage and hour cases as single-employee cases, class actions, and actions under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”). 

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