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San Diego County worker fired for misconduct gets job back

June 9, 2012 | 11:10 am

A San Diego County government employee who was fired after a co-worker alleged he had been watching pornography and masturbating while at work has gotten his job back.

A hearing officer ruled that a 90-day suspension was more appropriate because, while the employee admitted to watching a “dirty” movie, he had denied masturbating. The co-worker also had not actually seen any sexual activity but merely heard suggestive sounds, the ruling said.

The employee, whose name was not revealed, was in a secluded part of a warehouse used by the office of public administrator/public guardian, which is responsible for disposing of the property of people who die without a will or close family members.

In other county offices, watching pornography would be a “proper basis for termination,” the hearing officer wrote. But the office of public administrator/public guardian is different.

The public guardian warehouse  “routinely reviews and disposes of adult, sexually explicit and pornographic material,” wrote hearing officer Francesca Krauel.

“Acquired during the normal course of public guardian/public administrator business, these materials range from magazines to computer videos,” Krauel wrote. “Typically, they are just thrown in the trash but sometimes vintage material is found that has some value and must be put aside for sale.”

Workers “make light of this ‘reviewing’ and do not consider it as creating a hostile work environment or a form of sexual harassment.”

The incident occurred in December. The firing was appealed to the county Civil Service Commission; after a two-day hearing in May, the hearing officer issued her ruling this week.


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--Tony Perry in San Diego