One Year Ago Today (January 2, 2021)…A former Bassett Unified School District administrator is suing her ex-employer, alleging she was fired in 2020 in retaliation for taking medical leave to deal with the anxiety caused by false rumors that she used sex to obtain advances in her career.
Linda Bermudez’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Tuesday, alleges she was subjected to a hostile work environment and that she was a victim of wrongful termination and disability discrimination. She seeks unspecified damages and reinstatement to the position as executive director of business services.
A BUSD representative could not be immediately reached for comment.
Bermudez, who holds a master’s degree in public administration, was hired by the San Gabriel Valley district in August 2016 as the director of policy compliance and partnerships, the suit states. In January 2019, she was evaluated for the job of executive director of business services, found to have exceeded the minimum qualifications and subsequently promoted by then-Superintendent Debra French, according to the complaint.
In August 2019, members of the Board of Education-appointed bond oversight committee allegedly accused Bermudez of having sexual relationships with male colleagues in order to advance her career. Bermudez complained to French and other upper management personnel, but soon some of her employees began to disrespect her, causing her anxiety, depression and “suicidal ideations,” the suit states.
At a work-related event in December 2019, Bermudez witnessed French become “belligerently drunk” and sexually harass a male board member, the suit states. French also encouraged the plaintiff to “pursue a relationship” with the trustee, according to the suit.
The next month, French insisted that she and Bermudez discuss “the fun stuff” and the superintendent insinuated that the board member was the plaintiff’s boyfriend, the suit states. In turn, Bermudez denied any such relationship existed and “vehemently” asked French to stop talking about her personal life because it made her uncomfortable, according to the suit.
Bermudez went on medical leave in February 2020 to deal with her stress and the next month was told she was being fired as of last June, according to the suit. Bermudez believes French had a role in her termination.
Bermudez was left “embarrassed, ashamed, humiliated, emotionally hurt and in financial desperation” after losing her job, the suit states.
French was named superintendent of the Millbrae Elementary School District in Northern California last May. Alejandro Alvarez is the current BUSD superintendent.