A jury ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to pay $4.075 million to an employee who sued for whistleblower retaliation and failure to provide complete back wages and an accounting after he was fired and later reinstated.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about a day before reaching its verdict Thursday in favor of Christopher Goleco, who was hired as a medical assistant in 2004.
While working at the state prison in Lancaster in 2004, Goleco administered CPR to an inmate found with a gaping head wound, but evidence showed the inmate died about an hour before Goleco arrived, according to the suit. Nonetheless, Goleco was served with a notice of dismissal in 2005 on grounds he did not provide timely aid to the prisoner, the suit stated.
Goleco spent years fighting his firing and was ordered reinstated by a Superior Court judge in 2012, a ruling that was upheld on appeal one year later, the suit stated. In a sworn declaration, Goleco said he became known as the longest fired and later reinstated employee in department history.
Goleco said the department’s alleged refusal to pay him back wages and benefits owed to him caused him and his family to suffer constant financial pressure, including repeated foreclosure threats and other creditor actions.