Government Law

Former top attorney says city demoted and fired her for probing $10M sewer scheme

A former top attorney with the city of San Francisco has filed a wrongful termination claim over her demotion and firing.

Joanne Hoeper says she first lost her position as chief trial deputy and then her job because she investigated a sewer scheme that cost the city some $10 million between 2002 and 2012, reports the Center for Investigative Reporting, in an article published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

It allegedly involved unnecessary repairs to private sewer lines performed by a small number of plumbing contractors and paid for by the city, after the repairs were approved by officials in the city attorney’s office.

The investigation was sparked by homeowner concerns about the quality of contractors’ work and whether the work they were doing was necessary, the article reports.

City attorney Dennis Herrera was out of town and could not be reached. But a spokesman described Hoeper’s wrongful termination claim as “baseless allegations of wrongdoing from a disgruntled former employee,” the Center for Investigative Reporting says.

“While we generally cannot discuss personnel issues, the circumstances of Ms. Hoeper’s separation were thoroughly reviewed by outside counsel,” wrote spokesman Matt Dorsey in an email. He said his boss is “confident that the San Francisco city attorney’s office will be vindicated when the case is adjudicated.”

Hoeper says she was demoted in 2012 and fired earlier this year.

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