Former California Assembly employee claims wrongful termination in suit
SACRAMENTO - A former legislative chief of staff has sued the California Assembly and the Republican lawmaker for whom he worked, alleging he was wrongfully fired for complaining about misconduct.
Sean Doherty alleges he received no assistance when he complained to the Assembly Rules Committee, which oversees human resources, about Assemblyman Devin Mathis of Visalia. He believes the lawmaker was tipped off about complaints that should have remained confidential.
The suit, filed last week in Sacramento Superior Court, also names Assembly human resources officials.
Doherty alleges he left a more lucrative consulting business to work for Mathis beginning in early 2015 and expected long-term employment. He said Mathis engaged in a variety of misbehavior, including sexual misconduct, misuse of state resources and discrimination.
"This is a baseless suit filed by a disgruntled former employee who was terminated by the Assembly," Mathis said in a statement, deferring further comment to the Assembly.
Records released by the Assembly in February in response to demands for greater transparency about sexual misconduct at the Capitol show Doherty was fired effective May 10, 2017 after the Assembly received complaints about sexual harassment. He was accused of telling a female employee "I prefer you to wear sheer pantyhose" and asking someone if she was sexually active with her boyfriend. Doherty's lawsuit says he denies the claims.
His lawsuit repeats claims by a political blogger who accused Mathis of sexual misconduct last year. Sacramento Police spokeswoman Linda Matthews said in November that police had investigated a charge against Mathis but found no evidence to substantiate it. No details of the alleged incident were disclosed by police.
Kevin Liao, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, said the Assembly could not provide comment on the lawsuit because it involves a personnel issue. He said the defendants named in the complaint have not yet been served with the lawsuit.
Associated Press writer Sophia Bollag contributed to this report.