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Bruce Henderson sues City over his firing

Says 30 attorneys fired without good cause

Bruce Henderson
Bruce Henderson

Bruce Henderson, former city council member, yesterday (April 20) filed suit against the City for his allegedly illegal firing. In September of last year, Henderson, then a deputy city attorney, filed a claim against the City, saying that he had been fired August 31 without cause, and more than 30 attorneys were let go at the same time.

Henderson, believing that most of the fired attorneys were white males, said his firing was based on age, gender, and ethnicity. His claim was denied in October.

The suit charges that the City violated Charter Section 40, which was amended by voters in 2010. Previously, an incoming city attorney would fire groups of deputy attorneys without cause. Now, this can’t be done, but Henderson says it was in his case, and that of others.

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Bruce Henderson
Bruce Henderson

Bruce Henderson, former city council member, yesterday (April 20) filed suit against the City for his allegedly illegal firing. In September of last year, Henderson, then a deputy city attorney, filed a claim against the City, saying that he had been fired August 31 without cause, and more than 30 attorneys were let go at the same time.

Henderson, believing that most of the fired attorneys were white males, said his firing was based on age, gender, and ethnicity. His claim was denied in October.

The suit charges that the City violated Charter Section 40, which was amended by voters in 2010. Previously, an incoming city attorney would fire groups of deputy attorneys without cause. Now, this can’t be done, but Henderson says it was in his case, and that of others.

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Comments
27

Did Mr. Henderson have an employment contract? If not he is an "at will" employee which means that the employer may terminate his employment for no reason at all. Unless the employer can be shown to have discriminated against him (and others) for reasons prohibited by law he has no case.

April 24, 2018

Wait, isn’t that exactly what this story says, Henderson is suing for discrimination? If your theory is “at will” employees can be terminated for a host of reasons not relating to job performance, without risk, then we have slid way down a very slippery slope. Sadly, discrimination is typically well camouflaged by those who practice it.

Henderson is an intelligent and articulate person, who is making an argument before a court of law, that he, and his peers, were discriminated against. He is following the procedures established by his former employer to settle a grievance, or a perceived wrong. If the argument has merit, then he, and the others should be compensated for the discriminatory behavior of the defendant. If not, then the Court should penalize him with paying the defendant’s and Court’s costs.

No one, in my opinion, should get away with discriminatory practices, so it’s up to Mr. Henderson to prove it, or the City to settle with him and his peers.

April 24, 2018

JustWondering: Henderson is an experienced lawyer who has tried aa lot of cases in court. He is also perceptive in interpreting the law. He figured immediately that the City's deals with the Padres and Chargers were scams. He saw right away that the Chargers's deal with the City was in essence a route out of town. Best, Don Bauder

April 24, 2018

AlexClarke:I don't know if Henderson or his colleagues had employment contracts. Remember, they were working for the local government. The amended City Charter Section 40 seems fairly clear to me. Best, Don Bauder

April 24, 2018

Attorneys are tasked with settling arguments, Bruce Henderson has a reputation for starting them. Sometimes he's right, but he's always a righteous jackass. I would be amazed the City hired him, except that City Government is largely a pack of donkeys carrying water for the big developers. His complaint seems to say that he was fired for being a good old boy. "Good" always meant White of course. This world run by laughably inept old White men, hardly lacks for blowhard absurdity, but a lawyer suing his client for dismissing him is special. If I thought my lawyer might sue me for anything other than failure to pay my bill, I certainly would dismiss him.

April 24, 2018

Psycholizard: Actually, Henderson usually files a suit to make a very important point. I'm sure that's what he considers this suit. Best, Don Bauder

April 24, 2018

For those fortunate enough to avoid the Fox News addled brains trolling social media, there is a persistent pity party of White males blaming failure on discrimination. As an aged White Male, I find them laughable. Bruce Henderson is not a failure, instead he's a famous attorney, which is another word for jackass. I just can't see how he is damaged by being fired from such a crummy job. If he was fired to stop him from pursuing a case, that would be a bridge to fight on. He should let an attorney specialist handle this case, and move on to those public matters that made his name. I hope he isn't representing himself.

April 25, 2018

Psycholizard: Henderson is in his mid-70s. I doubt he needs this job. As discussed, he is trying to make a point. Best, Don Bauder

April 25, 2018

Attorneys who make points, often end up skewering themselves.

April 26, 2018

While I don't know all that much about Henderson, I can flatly state that if he had been successful in derailing that Chargers deal, the city would be far better off today. It's too bad that he could not muster a political force at that time, and I recall that he didn't do too well with the well-trained local judges either.

"The Susan" Golding presided over two of the biggest messes the city had in recent decades or ever. The pension debacle started with her, and the massive subsidy of the ungrateful Chargers/Spanos gang was definitely on her watch and much her doing. Every time I visit San Diego (inside the city limits) and thump through its potholed streets I can blame a series of mayors and city council representatives who gave hundreds of millions of dollars to the Spanos family with little to show for it. Every one of those wasted dollars was a dollar that wasn't spent on the streets, water lines, sewer lines, parks, libraries and cop pay. Now there is a billion dollar maintenance/infrastructure backlog that the city cannot afford to bring current.

When that foolish deal was made with the Chargers it almost guaranteed that the team would leave eventually. So, for any hard-core Chargers fans, instead of being grateful that the city caved in to Spanos and NFL demands, they should be outraged.

I was shocked to learn that Bruce was employed in the city attorney's office. I seem to recall it was Aguirre who hired him. He survived eight years of Goldsmith's mismanagement of the office. Why Elliott canned him and thirty others should be subject of another story.

April 25, 2018

Visduh: Henderson has been in the city attorney's office for ten years. As far as I know, he got along fine with Goldsmith. My guess is that the establishment believed that as long as he was on the City payroll, he wouldn't be upsetting plans for the Chargers fleece job.

You are absolutely right: all that money spent on the Chargers should have gone to infrastructure. That was one of Henderson's main arguments -- mine too, at the time. It was Henderson who said in the 1990s that the contract was a route out of town for the Chargers. It was. Best, Don Bauder

April 25, 2018

When Henderson was on the Council (87-91) the EPA was trying to extort billions from the City for secondary sewage treatment and Mayor O’Conner was ready to cave. Henderson’s leadership as well as some of our local scienctists argued secondary treatment was unnecessary. In doing so, Henderson saved the taxpayers millions, maybe a billion dollars.

April 26, 2018

JustWondering; Yes, that was one of Henderson's triumphs. Best, Don Bauder

April 27, 2018

Henderson is correct in challenging "age discrimination" that is rampant in government and business. There is no doubt in my mind that if Henderson gets a fair judge and a fair hearing that he could win this case. Based on what happened with Moores and how conservative Judges are in San Diego, Henderson may have a 50/50 shot. It would be much higher in LA or SF. Too many country club judges in San Diego who do not want to upset the Rancho Sante Fe applecart. If Henderson were to prevail then it would open the door to a class action suit against the City. Being the first Party in this suit, it is very likely that Henderson would be appointed by a Judge to lead the class of Plaintiffs(30). It could involve some very nice Attorneys fees (30%+)
to add to Henderson's retirement funds.

Not a bad play by Henderson to ride off into the sunset with the wind in his sails, a major victory, a precedent set, and added money in his retirement fund and war chest.

Side note, Henderson most likely worked at the City to not only help out and use his skills and experience to benefit the City, but also to secure a more lucrative pension...8 years on the City Council + 10 years in the City Attorneys Office adds up to a decent City pension. Add a few more years to that and a 20 year pension with the City is not too shabby to add to whatever private pension that Henderson has set up.

As you stated, Henderson and others were correct about the awful Chargers ticket guarantee with the Chargers. Even Stevie Wonder could see/read the deal was crap

Goldsmith tolerated Henderson for so long in the City Attorneys Office because it was a "win win" situation. Henderson and other older attorneys have decades of "institutional knowledge" that cannot be replace at any price by young students coming out of law school that City and County Agencies prefer to hire at the bottom of the salary scale. It saves the City Attorneys office millions by hiring experienced attorneys who have been around the legal block. Also, much more expensive to hire outside private counsel to try to get up to speed on City and governmental issues.

April 27, 2018

HENDERSON'S PENSION DID NOT INCREASE WHILE HE WORKED FOR CITY ATTORNEY. Bruce Henderson has written in to clarify the post of SportsFan0000. Henderson says, "For reasons that raise interesting, but unexplored, legal issues, my years with the city attorney did not provide any additional pension benefits. My benefits are, and have always been, limited to those accruing as a result of my four years as a member of the city council." Best, Don Bauder

April 27, 2018

Full disclosure:

Due to the way Councilpersons of that era were granted pensions, Mr. Henderson has been collecting his pension AND his Dep. City Attorney salary for many years. His four years of service on the Council earns him less than $10K a year in pension benefits. After taxes, substantial less than 10k.

For the Councilman who really did lead the fight against the EPA’s extortion, he not only earned it, in my opinion, he deserves it.

April 27, 2018

JustWondering: As I recall, Henderson was only permitted to work part-time in the city attorney's office. I believe that was related to the pension he was receiving as a former councilman. Best, Don Bauder

April 29, 2018

I Stand Corrected!

April 28, 2018

SportsFan0000: It is often a mistake for companies and governments to hire young people with lower salaries while laying off more experienced people with higher salries. Problem: the youg lack experience. One example: all the mistakes at the Union-Tribune. By and large, they result from the paper forcing out experienced personnel and hiring greenies. Best, Don Bauder

April 27, 2018

I totally agree with you on this issue Don. Too many bean counters pinching pennies by laying off older, more seasoned employees in favor of cheaper, less experienced, less savvy green pea workers...

April 28, 2018

SportsFan0000: On the other hand, if you look at the post in which I lamented the hiring of the young to force out the old, I spelled the word "young" y-o-u-g. I am having many more typing problems as I age. Best, Don Bauder

April 29, 2018

I admit to having the same issue, even though I was my school's spelling bee champion. This was back before Edison created the light bulb!

April 29, 2018

dwbat: I am so old my school didn't have a spelling contest....at least, I don't remember one. Best, Don Bauder

April 29, 2018

Hang in there Don...Sometimes, I am the victim of auto correct or speedy multitasking. Some of that can be corrected with another proofread...Other stuff, just let it go...not worth your time.

April 30, 2018

While Bruce Henderson fights to prove how unfair the World is to old White men, the schemers in charge have cooked up a new scheme to build a billion dollar stadium for some imagined NFL team owner. The proposed SDSU Stadium is now to be expandable, with some bizarre new roofing scheme, and of course luxury box brothels for the billionaires. Seems like a stadium roof builder must be part of the kickback, because a totally unnecessary roof is plotted for every proposal pushed. This time to keep the sunshine out.

We need Bruce Henderson to keep kicking at the schemers aiming to defraud our City. Should he persuade the City Attorney, his former employer, to pay him pity money, it will seem corrupt at best. At worst they will fight to prove he is unfit, and if he should think to represent himself, perhaps he is.

April 29, 2018

Psycholizard: So that's why the Chargers had that goofy idea to have a roofed stadium! It was to shield the fans in the proletariat seats and the TV cameras from the orgies in the luxury boxes. Best, Don Bauder

April 29, 2018

Now I don't know what makes billionaires spend millions on those luxury suites at stadiums, but sex is my most entertaining guess. It should be true. More likely they want to gamble.

April 30, 2018

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