February 2020 the San Francisco Court of Appeals made a decision that affected the entire state of California. The Court decided to uphold the verdict that Dennis Herrera, an attorney for the city of San Francisco, was guilty of firing Joanne Hoeper, San Francisco’s Chief Trial Deputy, as revenge for daring to speak against him.
The argument started when Hoeper supposedly found evidence that the Attorney Claims Unit of San Francisco had been charging the state money in order to pay for the repair of sewage systems that were not broken. Apparently, the charade goes back as far as the year 2007 and had cost San Francisco tax payers around 10 million dollars. Hoeper reported her findings, but was still fired for supposedly not doing a satisfactory job when dealing with matters that had happened years before the sewage system scam was investigated.
As a result of the court case, Hoeper was rewarded five million dollars for damage and lawyer fees.
“I hope this long-delayed victory encourages other public employees to do the right thing, be true to their oath and report wrongdoing. I hope it sends a strong signal to the city attorney and to other elected officials that, at least in California, firing whistleblowers is illegal and there will be consequences,” said Hoeper after the verdict was delivered.
Herrera was less than thrilled with the case results though.
“We believe in the jury system, but no system is perfect. Sometimes juries get it wrong, and that’s what happened here,” said John Cote, the official spokesperson for the San Francisco Attorney Office.
Nonetheless, the argument has been settled, and the city’s tax payers will no longer have to pay for false claims.