Los Angeles County Social Worker Receives $1,583,844 in Retaliation Jury Verdict Win

Manhattan Beach attorney Patricio Barrera of Barrera & Associates represented Soheila Abyane, a 24-year employee of the County of Los Angeles, where she was a Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”) children’s supervising social worker. Ms. Abyane, who is Persian, was a diligent and successful employee of the County throughout her long career. When a new African American supervisor was assigned to her office, Ms. Abyane began to be singled out and discriminated against based upon her national origin. When Ms. Abyane complained about the discrimination by her supervisors, she was subjected to severe and continuous retaliation, ultimately resulting in her unlawful termination.

The retaliatory conduct of Ms. Abyane’s supervisors was particularly troubling given that Ms. Abyane was employed in DCFS’ Wateridge office, which services South Central Los Angeles and some of the most impoverished areas of Los Angeles. The Wateridge office is in need of additional resources and is understaffed, yet the County stood behind its supervisors in wrongfully terminating its long-term dedicated employee Soheila Abyane.

The Los Angeles jury returned its verdict on June 10, 2014 after deliberating for three days and hearing eleven days of trial, awarding Ms. Abyane $1,583,844 in compensatory damages. (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC489359) Mr. Barrera will be making a motion for attorneys’ fees under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, which will be sought in addition to the verdict awarded by the jury.

“It was an honor to represent Ms. Abyane, a hard-working government employee who gave so much to the community over her 24-year career, only to have it ripped away from her because she exercised her lawful right to complain that she was the subject of retaliation in the workplace,” said Mr. Barrera. “We can only hope that verdicts such as this warn employers, including government agencies, of the severe consequences of their unlawful actions.”

Barrera & Associates is a litigation and employment law firm, located in Manhattan Beach, California. Its founding attorney, Pat Barrera, has been a Southern California Super Lawyer for ten consecutive years and has spent his legal career committed to obtaining justice for hardworking individuals and businesses and to protect the rights of clients from wrongdoing. Barrera & Associates’ website is www.baattorneys.com.