Oakland Housing Authority wants IT director's lawsuit over demotion moved to federal court

By Karen Kidd | Jun 18, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) – An Oakland Housing Authority official recently filed a notice to have a suit filed by the authority's IT director over his demotion last year to be moved to U.S. District Court for California's Northern District, San Francisco Division.

SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) – An Oakland Housing Authority official recently filed a notice to have a suit filed by the authority's IT director over his demotion last year to be moved to U.S. District Court for California's Northern District, San Francisco Division.

Oakland Housing Authority Chief Financial Officer Tracy Stabler said in her notice of removal filed June 8, that other defendants in the case have consented to have the case removed from Alameda County Superior Court. The lawsuit was filed in the superior court in April by Oakland Housing Authority IT director Terry McCully.

In addition to Stabler and the Oakland Housing Authority, other named defendants in the lawsuit are Executive Director Eric Johnson and Director of Human Resources Drew Felder. Stabler, Johnson and Felder are named in their official and individual capacities. Stabler has been the authority's CFO since February 2013 while Johnson has been executive director since November 2010.

McCully has worked for the Oakland Housing Authority since 2005, first as senior systems analyst and then IT manger, and has been IT director since May 2016, according to his LinkedIn account.


U.S. District Court Judge James Donato  

The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge James Donato on June 11. Four days later, Oakland Housing Authority filed a motion to dismiss. A hearing on the motion to dismiss is scheduled for July 26.

McCully's lawsuit stems from a Nov. 29, 2016, meeting in Johnson's office when McCully was informed that his probationary period as IT director, which ended several weeks earlier, would be extended another year, according to his lawsuit. "Mr. McCully was called into Mr. Johnson's office (and) told by Mr. Johnson, Ms. Stabler and Mr. Felder that he did not pass probation," the lawsuit said. "Mr. McCully responded that he had already passed probation on Nov. 2, 2016, and had not been told probation was being extended until three weeks later."

About four months later, McCully was informed that he was wrong about his initial probationary period. "On April 26, 2017, Mr. McCully was called back into Mr. Johnson's office, told the date he had was wrong, that he had been told on Oct. 28, 2016 that his probation was being extended and that he had less than two days (by 3:00 p.m. on May 1, 2017) to accept a demotion to IT Manager," the lawsuit said. "Mr. McCully accepted the demotion in lieu of being terminated. Mr. McCully was never given any written or verbal information as to his progress as IT director towards successfully ending his probation after Dec. 2, 2016."

McCully is suing Oakland Housing Authority over allegations of disparate treatment, a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act and for federal civil rights violations, claiming his due process rights were denied when he was demoted following his probationary period. 

Defendants in the case "acted with oppression, fraud or malice and in conscious disregard and deliberate indifference (to McCully)'s rights in that they knew that their actions were harmful and they sought to humiliate and punish (McCully) and to make his an example to any others who might dare to object to or interfere with their decisions, plans and deliberate omissions," the lawsuit said.

McCully is seeking "an amount in excess of $500,000."

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