A former longtime Southern California Edison Co. employee is suing the utility, alleging he was wrongfully fired in 2021 on false sexual harassment grounds after he alleged his accuser, a fellow worker, manipulated her time card.
Robert Castellano‘s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges sex and gender discrimination, defamation and libel per se. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Wednesday, Nov. 16.
Castellanos alleges that the SCE investigation upon which the allegedly false sexual harassment claims were grounded was based on “a stereotypical gender-based perception that males in supervisory positions are more likely than females to engage in inappropriate and sexually offensive conduct toward members of the opposite sex.”
SCE spokesman David Eisenhauer issued a statement Thursday in response to the complaint. “We have not yet received Mr. Castellanos’ complaint, and once we have a chance to fully review it, we will respond as part of the legal proceedings,” Eisenhauer said.
Castellanos, 55, worked for SCE for nearly 30 years, starting as a part-time computer operator, the suit states. He was promoted over time to full-time posts that led up to him having a lead operator job and he was often praised for his work, the suit states.
In 2017, Trina Queen, a co-defendant in the suit, was hired by SCE as an independent contractor and she eventually also became a full-time computer operator, according to the suit. Queen was often late to work and returned late from her rest and lunch breaks, so Castellanos, as the lead operator, relayed information about Queen’s attendance and time card problems to his supervisor, the suit states. Castellanos continued to report alleged time card violations to a new boss that were allegedly committed by Queen and two others, the suit states. In early October 2021, Queen told Castellanos’ boss and SCE human resources that the plaintiff had made “unwelcome and offensive comments to her,” the suit states. An SCE management team member also told Castellanos that Queen had filed a sexual harassment complaint against him, asking him if he had every called her “babe” or “boo,” according to the suit.
Castellanos’ boss sent him a letter last Nov. 22 telling him he was fired for “engaging in inappropriate conduct,” the suit states. Castellanos “experienced shock, disbelief, severe mental and emotional distress, insomnia and worry” as a result, according to the suit, which further states that although the plaintiff found another job, he is paid less and has fewer benefits.