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Fired Sonoma County employee files whistleblower suit

  • (WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM)

A former Sonoma County government worker has sued her ex-employer, claiming she was fired for whistleblowing about her department’s treatment of disabled employees.

Madeleine Jen Kin, 60, a personnel manager in the Human Services Department, is seeking damages that could top $1 million in the suit filed Wednesday in Sonoma County Superior Court.

Jen Kin, whose $90,000-a-year job included handling department discipline and terminations, claims her boss fired disabled employees rather than making reasonable efforts to accommodate them, as required by state and federal law.

In one case, an employee suffering computer-related pain was fired before his specialized office equipment arrived, the lawsuit claims. In another, an employee forced to carry scented dryer sheets to cover up an odor caused by her medication was fired for violating a non- perfume policy, her lawyer said.

When she reported her concerns to the county’s Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator, Taryn Young, Young informed Jen Kin’s boss, Human Services Manager Kiergan Pegg, the suit suggests.

Pegg confronted Jen Kin about being a whistleblower and fired her about three weeks later, just short of completing her one-year probation, the suit said.

“It is outrageous that Sonoma County’s Human Services Department is discriminating against the very population they exist to serve and even more outrageous that they fired an employee who insisted that they treat those individuals fairly,” said Jen Kin’s attorney, Gary Gwilliam, in a written statement.

Pegg did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.

Human Services Director Jerry Dunn said he could not discuss personnel matters because they are confidential. He said the county does not discriminate against disabled people.

“The policy of the county and the departments is to always be looking at reasonable accommodations that will enable us to employ individuals with disabilities,” he said.


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