The city of Citrus Heights was recently hit by a lawsuit after Sandy Richards, a former employee, was fired.
Sandy Richards spent much of her adult life in law enforcement. Over the years she has worked her way up from being a 911 dispatcher to being “the civil manager of the Citrus Heights Police Department where she has worked since 2006”. However, at the age of 57, Richards noticed a few things that eventually led her to file an age discrimination lawsuit against Citrus Heights. According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Sacramento, “Citrus Heights officials established a reason to fire her after she refused to retire.”
The suit names Chief Ron Lawrence, the former chief, and current city manager Christopher Boyd and Richards’ direct supervisor, Assistant Chief Gina Anderson. She also accused the department of “opening a false investigation into internal affairs that resulted in her being escorted from police headquarters and eventually released”.
In response, Richards said the move to remove her from her beloved job devastated her. She said, “I was released from the police department without further ado. I have bad nightmares, a full emotional trauma. I have never seen anything like it.” She added:
“I am a worker, I love to work. I love to stay busy, I love to be a problem solver. That’s why I was good at my job. I was a problem solver, I could solve anything … I could circle most of the people … I would still work there … I loved what I did. “
Dispatcher; Image courtesy of ernestoeslava via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com
However, in 2018, Lawrence began talking to Richards about retirement. Although Richards said she has no plans to retire anytime soon, Lawrence didn’t give in. According to the lawsuit, “Lawrence embarked on a campaign of harassment and hostility toward her and fabricated false workplace violators to evict her.” Finally, on June 21, 2019, she was “taken on administrative leave and taken out of the building without anyone giving her a reason to be removed.” The next day, Boyd, the town manager and former boss, returned her call and protested her resignation. Boyd’s answer? He said to her, “She should have had an exit plan like Boyd did.”
To make matters worse, the department “began an internal affairs investigation and cited examples of misconduct in September 2019 that Richards strongly disapproved of and that were seen as a pretext for age discrimination,” the lawsuit said. The department also ordered a psychological examination, which “was imposed without justification because Richards did not show objective evidence that her psychological fitness was an issue”.
Unfortunately for Richards, she was fired on April 8th based on “City Findings on Serious Misconduct, Harassment and Discrimination.”
Because she was being escorted from the police station, Richards said she “only stayed home in silence for months”. Then, in June, she filed her lawsuit against the city. This initial complaint was denied, so she filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Both federal agencies gave her the right to sue letters, which she did. She is now looking for compensation, punitive and other damages. She also hopes her suit will prevent others from being treated for who she was. She said:
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else… Being a civilian manager is really, really hard. Being a civilian manager is even harder … And I worked really hard to get it to work and take care of people. I mean that’s what I do. Support services. This is what you do, support everyone … This is devastating to me, just absolutely devastating. I struggle with it every day. “
Was she too old at 55? Age Discrimination Lawsuit against Citrus Heights Police
Lawsuit against Citrus Heights Police Department for age discrimination