LOS ANGELES – A former Southern California Edison Co. employee sued the utility and her ex-supervisor Monday, alleging she was forced to resign rather than stay in a hostile work environment created by her boss that could be compared to a “frat house on double-secret probation.”
The woman is identified only as Jane Roe in her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that alleges a host of allegations, including wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, retaliation and defamation. She’s seeking unspecified damages.
An SCE representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Roe says she began working for SCE in 2010 and most recently was a business analyst in the local planning department. Her direct supervisor was Ryan Vergara, who “ran the department like a frat house on double-secret probation,” according to her complaint.
Roe and her co-workers were forced to hear repeated sexual banter, racial jokes and distasteful comments about women, and she was told her relatives “should swim or dog-paddle their way over the Rio Grande and go back where they came from, that they were a drain on society and not good for America,” the suit alleges.
After Roe complained about the alleged comments to management, she was physically moved to a work location away from her department and excluded from SCE events and meetings, the suit states. She claims she also was given the “cold shoulder” by supervisors, written up for unprofessional conduct and “humiliated and demeaned in front of co-workers.”
In addition to the alleged inappropriate comments, Roe also complained about supervisors being intoxicated at work and other misbehavior, the suit states.
In response, SCE management began an investigation of her, accused her of misconduct and suspended her without pay for three days, the suit alleges.
Roe says she subsequently suffered a “disabling medical condition” because of her work environment and her doctor told her to take a medical leave. She eventually returned to work with some, but not all, of the accommodations her doctor asked for on her behalf, according to her lawsuit, which says she eventually had a relapse accompanied by a panic attack and post- traumatic distress disorder that caused her to go on another medical leave.
After SCE allegedly refused to agree to the remaining accommodations, her doctor told her it was not medically safe to return to work, according to the suit.
“Based on her doctor’s advice and for her medical well-being, plaintiff was forced to resign,” the complaint states.