Montebello’s former city manager is suing the city, alleging she was fired for reporting wrongdoing within City Hall and because she is a woman.
Francesca Tucker-Schuyler’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges whistleblower retaliation, discrimination based on sex, wrongful termination and failure to prevent discrimination. The suit filed Thursday seeks unspecified damages.
A representative for the city could not be immediately reached for comment.
Tucker-Schuyler says she was hired in October 2010 as the city’s finance director and was promoted to interim city administrator in May 2012. Later that year, she was elevated to city administrator, given a raise and granted a three-year contract, and in March 2015, the city gave her a contract extension and another raise and the title of city manager, according to her court papers.
During Tucker-Schuyler’s entire tenure with the city, she never received a negative evaluation, the suit says.
In 2017, she became concerned that public works regulations were not being followed regarding contracts for repairs to city facilities made inquiries that “were mostly ignored” and asked for legal guidance, according to her complaint.
After the city became embroiled in a lawsuit it filed against a local businessman, and because her history of inquiries with the city had been largely disregarded, Tucker-Schuyler met with city staff members, including the finance department, and did more research on the regulations regarding public works projects and bidding procedures, according to the suit.
She says she also reviewed past and current projects and sent multiple emails asking for guidance regarding the application of public works regulations.
Tucker-Schuyler became increasingly worried that her questions were not being answered by the city staff, so in September 2017 she reported the city’s alleged violations of bidding laws to Montebello police Chief Kevin McClure, according to the suit, which says some of her concerns involved the renovations of city hall facilities and sewer repairs.
With McClure’s help, Tucker-Schuyler was able to report her concerns to the District Attorney’s Office, according to her court papers. She also says she sent an email to the City Attorney’s Office regarding her concerns about an alleged lack of bidding on some contracts, but her communication was ignored.
In November 2017, the City Council voted in closed session to put the plaintiff on administrative leave, an action she believes was “the direct response” to the complaints she made, according to the lawsuit.
“Plaintiff was escorted to her office that evening by the city attorney, was asked to take her personal belongings and was instructed to leave the building immediately, the suit states.
The acting and interim city managers named after Tucker-Schuyler was put on leave were all male, and in June 2019 the city hired another male, Rene Bobadilla, as the plaintiff’s permanent replacement, the suit says.
From November 2017 to February 2019, the City Council held about 20 meetings while the plaintiff was on leave, during which her potential dismissal was on the agenda. But she was never given the chance to be heard regarding her status and was fired in February 2019, according to her court papers.
“The city gave no official explanation or a reason for her termination, or an opportunity to be heard regarding her termination,” the suit says.
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