Whistleblowers Michael B. and Sarah S. claimed the Bay Area Air Quality Management District illegally destroyed documents critical to the District’s ability to monitor, regulate, and enforce air quality for the Bay Area and then terminated them when they brought their concerns to executive management.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District regulates sources of air pollution within the nine San Francisco Bay Area Counties, and inspects and enforces air pollution regulations against refineries and major polluters. Michael B. worked for the District for over 15 years and was an IT manager in charge of document and record retention. Sarah S. was assigned to Michael B.’s team.
When the District moved its headquarters in 2016, Michael’s team was tasked with moving the District’s records and creating an electronic database and software program to manage the District’s historic records used for enforcement and management of the Bay Area’s air quality control. Sarah and Michael claimed they witnessed records, both paper and electronic, being destroyed in violation of District policy and state and federal law. They claimed failure to follow the law and record retention policy caused documents relevant to the proper enforcement of pollution standards to be destroyed. They alleged that after bringing these concerns to executive management at BAAQMD nothing was done to protect the records, Sarah and Michael were retaliated against, subject to bogus investigations, and ultimately fired. As part of the settlement of Michael’s claims, his status was changed to retired.
The District denied any wrongdoing and denied plaintiffs’ assertions that any records were improperly destroyed.
Plaintiffs claimed lost past and future wages and benefits and emotional distress.
Total Settlement $4,000,000
$3,750,000 to Michael B., status changed from “terminated” to “retired”
$250,000 to Sarah S.