A former Santa Barbara County employee filed suit against the county for wrongful termination yesterday, alleging emotional damages and asking to be reinstated.
Shawn Terris worked in the County Executive Office for 13 years before being fired last September. She claims she was fired for organizing county employees and because of her position on the Santa Barbara County Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees.
In a press conference, Terris claimed she was fired illegally.
“I’m stunned,” Terris said. “I’m disappointed, and I’m hurt that the county decided to terminate me. My first amendment rights were violated, along with several other important constitutional and labor laws.”
Santa Barbara County Chief Assistant Counsel Michael Ghizzoni said the county could not comment on the lawsuit.
“We at county counsel have not seen or analyzed the complaint yet, so we have no comment at this time,” Ghizzoni said.
In the suit, Terris alleges her first and 14th amendment rights were violated when she was barred from her office and not allowed to communicate with her constituents in the county employee retirement system. Terris also claims her rights were violated when county officials insisted the Board impose restrictions on Terris’s attempts to organize employees.
The lawsuit also claims several labor code violations. She alleges her termination was also in part because of whistle-blower activity on her part, which also violates the state labor code.
A court date has not yet been scheduled.