Jail Manager Claims He Was Fired Over Cancer Diagnosis

According to the Santa Barbara Independent, the former chief manager of a local jail project is suing the county and asking for his job back after he was fired amid accusations of misconduct.

The news outlet reports that Grady Williams, who worked for the county for 11 years, alleges that he was fired because he asked for a lighter workload to treat his advanced cancer, and that his dismissal was politically motivated. The county is currently working on building a new jail, with Williams leading planning.

Williams filed two lawsuits over his dismissal, seeking $5 million in payments for lost wages, future earnings and compensatory damages. It was reported that Williams was fired from his position with the General Services Department for allegedly misleading staff and the public by using the initials “PE” (professional engineer) in his title on business cards, emails, letterhead, and other official documentation, the Independent reported.

He is a licensed professional engineer in Washington State, but not in California. He reportedly learned of his firing via email. After his dismissal, Williams reportedly appealed to the county’s Civil Service Commission, which ruled that he should be re-instated “with full back pay, benefits, and interest, and should otherwise be made whole.”

However, the county has appealed the decision and told Williams to stay at home. It claims that he “committed a misdemeanor and a fireable offense,” over the initial claims.

Williams’ lawsuits include claims of wrongful termination lawsuit against the county, and allegations of discrimination and retaliation. Williams was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer in May 2010 which required surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

He claims that his oncologist asked him to limit his work hours to eight per day, which he informed to the county’s human resources department. Following the admission, a worker with the county allegedly asked Williams if he “had the strength” to continue with the lengthy and demanding jail project.

What Can I Do If I Get Sick and My Employer Fires Me?

There are federal and state laws in place that are intended to protect workers who may develop long-term illnesses like cancer from losing their jobs. Not only is it morally reprehensible that a person could lose his or her job over an illness, but it is illegal in many instances.

If you have been a victim of employment discrimination or you have questions about how to prove discrimination, contact one of our Los Angeles employment lawyers today to set up a consultation.

Kesluk, Silverstein & JacobLos Angeles employment attorneys