A former Calaveras Code Compliance officer is suing the county for alleged retaliation, failure to pay compensation for work performed and workplace discrimination.
According to a lawsuit filed by attorney John Shepardson of Los Gatos on behalf of former compliance officer Todd Barr, the county retaliated against Barr for reporting suspected employment discrimination and failed to compensate him for work he did as County Building Officer, even though he did not have that title at the time.
The complaint alleges that the county accused Barr of illegal activity as a compliance officer and otherwise misrepresented his service history as a basis for denying his application for a more senior position in 2017.
Calaveras County officials did not respond to requests for comment regarding the complaint.
Barr declined to comment about the complaint.
Shepardson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Earlier this decade, Shepardson represented former building official Ray Waller, who sued the county when officials released 1,200 documents from his personnel file in response to public information requests from the Enterprise and other media sites.
Waller was awarded $521,000 by a Calaveras jury.
Barr is seeking compensation for the “economic and noneconomic harms and losses he sustained as a result of the county’s wrongdoing.”
In all, the complaint estimates he is owed approximately $677,000. The total includes $300,000 he would have made if he became building official, $120,000 for additional compensation during the eight years he allegedly worked in a higher job classification than his pay level and $150,000 for emotional distress.
The discrimination and retaliation claims are based upon allegations that in 2005, county officials did not hire the only applicant for an extra code enforcement officer because they “don’t want a woman in that position.”
Barr claimed he informed county supervisors about that impropriety, but nobody investigated. Instead, he said the county retaliated by reprimanding him for having “inadequate control over employee time spent on county work,” an action his complaint refers to as “bogus.”
The claim also asserts that Barr was denied “out of class” payments for years of work above his pay grade, despite multiple requests for that additional pay.
Barr claims he unofficially took over as county building official because the person who held that title was “often unavailable when important issues” had to be addressed. He claims that additional work on his part continued until the building official retired in 2016.
Barr was then told that he was not qualified to fill the vacancy. When he applied for the supervisory job, he relied upon both his actual work experience as the building official as well as his supervisorial experience in the military, but he was told neither experience would be considered. That is alleged in the complaint to constitute an additional improper discrimination against his military service.
Barr claims that he was also accused falsely of improperly placing liens on properties for abatement costs and that those false accusations damaged his reputation.
After overcoming the initial “block” imposed by county officials to prevent Barr from interviewing for the building official opening, he interviewed with a panel and placed fourth in a ranking of candidates for the job. He was told the top three would be recommended to supervisors for discussion. Later, he claims that five were brought before the board and he was wrongly excluded from that group.
Last month, county supervisors met in closed session to discuss the complaint filed by Barr. The county said afterward no reportable action was taken during those discussions.
The court has set a date of May 9 for a case management conference. That is two days before a scheduled hearing to challenge the validity of the complaint.