I’ve posted before and AOCW readers have commented about the issue of whether AOC employees are covered by the California Whistleblower Protection Act. And although some may believe that AOC employees are protected, the AOC believes otherwise. In fact the agency told legislators in a hearing heard in October that it was their belief that AOC employees were not covered by the California Whistleblower Protection Act. This came as a huge surprise to legislators who wondered how AOC employees were expected to come forward with any information of malfeasance on the AOC’s part if they weren’t even protected.
Now it turns out two legislators are so concerned about the lack of protection they’ve decided to introduce legislation to ensure that AOC employees are given whistleblower protections. Cheryl Miller of the Recorder reported in an article printed Tuesday that Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, a Democrat from Long Beach, and Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, a Republican from Thousand Oaks, have joined forces on the proposed legislation they hope to introduce next month.
“I decided on the spot that it would be important legislation to improve transparency and government,” (Bonnie) Lowenthal said. “It’s a good government bill, and considering that billions of dollars are spent on the judicial system, I think taxpayers want to know that workers in our court system are protected from any retaliation.”
The biggest surprise in the article is a quote from the AOC’s salesman in chief Administrative Chief William Vickery who issued a statement saying that the AOC would support the work of Assemblywomen Lowenthal and Strickland.
“To the extent that there may be any existing gaps in state law for the judicial branch, we are happy to work with Assemblymember Lowenthal in addressing those concerns,” Vickrey said.
Oh, how nice. Now the AOC supports extending whistle blower protection to its employees. Of course this change in position by the AOC is a day late and a dollar short where one AOC employee in particular is concerned.
In announcing the legislation, Lowenthal cited the case of Jack Urquhart, the 11-year employee of the AOC who claims he was forced to retire by supervisors earlier this year after alerting the media to Judicial Council spending on a San Francisco retreat.
Passage of the legislation, and there’s no certainty that it will considering failed attempts in the past, may come too late for Mr. Urquhart, but it will surely protect those who come forward in the future.