Retalitory Firing Claim by CPUC Head Judge Heads to Court

12 Oct 2017

The State Personnel Board rejected a whistleblower complaint filed by the California Public Utilities Commission’s former head administrative law judge last month.

The Personnel Board’s rejection “is good news,” Daniel Siegel, attorney for Karen Clopton, former CPUC chief administrative law judge, told Current Oct. 11.  It opens the door to file a whistleblower suit in the Superior Court.

Compton’s complaint before the Personnel Board alleged the CPUC terminated her for objecting to collusion between CPUC and Pacific Gas & Electric officials, in particular regarding the selection of law judge Michael Colvin to handle matters related to PG&E’s natural gas pipeline blast in San Bruno in 2010. She alleged Colvin had “close and unethical relations with PG&E employees.”

She also alleged her dismissal was in retaliation for her efforts to curb racial bias at the commission.

Clopton was appointed chief law judge in January 2009.  In June of last year, the CPUC hired an investigator to look into her management style, specifically based on claims of “bullying, intimidation, and retaliatory” behavior towards staff. In February, she was given a poor evaluation. She was formally dismissed on Aug. 28.

The CPUC said Clopton’s claims are “baseless.”

Siegel said Clopton’s lawsuit would be filed in San Francisco Superior Court the week after next.

Clopton is seeking reinstatement to her position as head judge, back pay and removal of negative evaluations from her work file.

Elizabeth McCarthy


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