California prison agency lawyer sues state, alleges retaliation

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California State Prison in Sacramento, formerly known as New Folsom, was opened in 1986 and is adjacent to Folsom State Prison, California's second-oldest correctional facility.  The CSP-Sacramento houses maximum and high security offenders.

California State Prison in Sacramento, formerly known as New Folsom, was opened in 1986 and is adjacent to Folsom State Prison, California’s second-oldest correctional facility. The CSP-Sacramento houses maximum and high security offenders.

Sacramento Bee File

A lawyer for a California state agency that provides work opportunities to incarcerated people is suing his employer, as well as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, alleging they retaliated against him when he filed complaints. complaints against the former general manager.

Jeff Sly, the general counsel for the California Prison Industry Authority, or CalPIA, alleges in his complaint that then-CEO Scott Walker harassed him and tried to force him to retire.

CalPIA and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation declined to comment for this story, with the Department of Corrections citing their policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

Sly, who has served as general counsel for the Prison Industry Authority since 2006, alleges that Walker, who replaced Charles “Chuck” Pattillo as chief executive in January 2019, “was subject to hostile and abusive behavior towards ( Sly) “.

“Ridiculed and insulted Walker (Sly), turning almost every routine discussion with the CEO into an ordeal,” the complaint alleges.

Sly said in his lawsuit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court by attorney David Graulich of the Wronged at Work Law Group, that Walker started pushing him into retirement starting in early 2019.

Then, in early 2020, Sly gave an interview to investigators in the Office of Internal Affairs of the Ministry of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he discussed Walker. During the interview, Sly expressed concern over his comments inviting retaliation from Walker’s retaliation, but was assured the conversation was confidential, according to the complaint.

In June 2020, Walker summoned Sly to his office and played an audio clip of the confidential interview, according to the complaint.

Sly’s “shock” was so extreme that he thought he was going to pass out. His heart rate skyrocketed, his breathing became difficult, and he thought he was going to have a heart attack. Walker’s breach of confidentiality and access to “confidential” OIA recordings was devastating, ”according to the complaint.

Sly’s attorney, Graulich, called the situation in which Walker confronted Sly the “ultimate nightmare” in a telephone interview.

The complaint then names the Internal Affairs investigative officers, as well as former CDCR secretary Ralph Diaz and current secretary Kathleen Allison, alleging they authorized retaliation against Sly.

“Despite possessing actual or constructive knowledge, neither Diaz nor Allison took steps to protect (Sly) from Walker’s abuse. Neither Diaz nor Allison removed Walker from (Sly) ‘s work environment, thereby deliberately subjecting (Sly) to further abuse, ”the complaint states.

His attorney, Graulich, acknowledged that these were “unusual circumstances” for CalPIA’s own senior attorney to be the plaintiff in a case against the agency.

“Somewhere along the line there was a leak and it had a very serious impact on (Sly),” Graulich said.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He covered crime and politics from the interior of Alaska to the oil fields of North Dakota to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


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