August 31, 2015

Today, SMCLC filed a complaint with the City concerning the firing of Communications and Public Affairs Officer Elizabeth Riel for engaging in protected free speech eight years prior to her hiring. After Ms. Riel sued the City for violating her rights, the City settled her case for over $1,000,000 including its legal fees.

Before filing its complaint, SMCLC obtained documents in Ms. Riel’s federal lawsuit. Those documents revealed a secret, successful campaign by then Mayor O’Connor to oust Elizabeth Riel for her past, constitutionally protected political activities. No other city councilmember participated in or knew of the campaign to fire Ms. Riel.

SMCLC asks the City for two forms of relief. First, to determine whether councilmember Pam O’Connor’s actions led to the firing of Elizabeth Riel by the City Manager in violation of Section 610 of the City Charter, and, if so, to initiate appropriate legal action.

Second, for the City Council to independently conduct a full, public review into all of the facts surrounding Ms. Riel’s firing, to make appropriate findings as to councilmember O’Connor and senior staff’s role in Ms. Riel’s firing, and for the City to establish additional procedures to prevent future political interference in City employee hiring and firing decisions.

Click here for Complaint and exhibits