Former Humboldt County Fair GM Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

According to the Eureka Time-Standard, a former Humboldt County Fair general manager and his wife, the publisher and editor of the Ferndale Enterprise newspaper, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Humboldt County Fair Association.

The couple alleges First Amendment Violations in the lawsuit, filed on March 5. According to the Time-Standard, Stuart and Caroline Titus allege the fair board declined to renew Stuart’s contract in February 2013 in retaliation for his refusal to censor the weekly paper run by his wife.

Stuart served as the general manager for the fair for 22 years and is Ferndale’s mayor. He also said the council refused to comply with California open meeting laws. According to the lawsuit, during an April 30, 2012 fair association executive committee meeting, board members allegedly told Stuart Titus they felt “threatened” when he recorded association meetings and that he reminded them of their obligations under the Brown Act, which requires open discussion.

Stuart was reportedly told that he should not make board members “look bad” in stories, after the Ferndale Enterprise allegedly published critical coverage of some board members and ran stories about community issues, including the DUI arrest of a board member.

The lawsuit alleges that board members requested that Stuart not make public the minutes (notes) of the April 30 meeting and an April 23 conversation he had with the board president about how the Enterprise’s coverage could affect his job, according to the Time-Standard.

I Have Been Retaliated Against at Work

California employment laws prohibit retaliation in the workplace. Aside from wrongful termination, forms of workplace retaliation can include:

  • Adding warnings or suspensions to employee files
  • Demotions
  • Denial of advancement opportunities
  • Failure to provide meal or rest breaks
  • Harassment
  • Relocation to an undesirable location

Victims of workplace abuse are often reluctant to seek legal action out of fear that they may lose their jobs, but workers should realize that multiple state and federal statutes protect them. If you want a Los Angeles employment lawyer to review the merits of your case, contact our office today to schedule a consultation by calling 310-273-3180.

Kesluk, Silverstein & JacobLos Angeles employment attorneys