EXETER – Former Exeter District Ambulance (EDA) supervisor Jennifer Rios filed a wrongful termination claim in excess of $10,000 over summer, and now she is taking it one step further. Last week the Law Offices of Melo and Sarsfield, on behalf of Rios, filed the suit against the District and former interim EDA district manager T.J. Fischer.
The suit alleges the EDA retaliated against Rios for objecting to, reporting and complaining about alleged illegal criminal conduct in the workplace, and specifically by board member Tony Miller. As well the suit alleges the ambulance district and then EDA interim district manage T.J. Fischer violated Rios’ first and fourteenth amendment rights.
The specifics to her suit were spelled out in the July 20 claim she filed earlier this year.
According to the claim, Rios, a seven-year veteran of the public ambulance district, was fired on June 30 when interim district manager T.J. Fischer told her that he had been directed by the “board” to fire her by simply saying “You are an at-will employee and your services are no longer needed.” Rios pointed out in the claim that the board could not have made that decision because it lacked a quorum. Board member Stacy Walter resigned from the Board on May 8 and Board President Allen Sherer and Board Clerk Rob Hubbard had both resigned on June 26 and June 27 respectively before the decision was made.
In the claim, Rios stated that she had several conversations with Sherer about alleged harassment by Miller in February. Later that same month, Rios helped organize a recall campaign against Miller. On May 6, Rios said she was contacted by shift supervisor Casey Randall who reported that EDA’s supply of narcotics were gone from the safe. Rios told Randall to file a police report. Following an interview with the Exeter Police Department where Rios said she believed it was Miller who took the medications, Rios claims that Fischer told her that Miller had “directed” him to re-open an investigation against Rios in regards to an alleged misconduct of which she had already been cleared of in “multiple investigations.”
“I believe that Mr. Miller is targeting myself and several of my colleagues, and has stated such, due to Mrs. Miller attempting to have myself and my colleagues fired due to her job status being in jeopardy. Mr. Miller has a personal vendetta against myself and is creating a hostile work environment, and I feel threatened by him and his tendencies to intimidate people. I am requesting that the Board look into these matters and that they be investigated fully.”
In the letter to Sherer, Rios claimed that Miller removed two boxes of what she claims to be personnel files. Rios said she and Savannah Lester witnessed Miller carry the boxes out of the district manager’s office between 9 p.m. and 10:18 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2017. She says that Miller allegedly had taken items from the personnel cabinet which was to remain locked at all times unless unlocked by the district manager.
The next morning, Rios said she and fellow crew supervisor Matt Caserza arrived at different times to find that their shared office had been locked with a deadbolt. Rios wrote that Caserza called Sherer to ask why the door had been locked.
A hearing date is set for March 28, 2018 in Department 7 of the Tulare County Superior Court.