First of three parts
After more than three decades as an employee inside Orange County government, Kathleen Tahilramani is preparing to go to trial against the county next month, alleging that top officials retaliated against her in her capacity as a Human Resources official because she refused to skirt state selection rules for jobs at the county trash department and insisted that harassment complaints be investigated.
Tahilramani is also speaking out against an age-old perk for county supervisors: the ability to move their top political aides into county civilian jobs.
While county officials have declined to speak directly to the issues raised by Tahilramani, they argue that an outside law firm examined all of her allegations and found them to be unfounded. County supervisors, however, have refused to make that report – along with others examining the conduct of executives and elected officials – public, citing attorney-client privilege.
Tahilramani’s allegations are similar to those leveled by former Deputy CEO Alisa Drakodaidis and Paula Kitchen, the county’s former equal employment opportunity compliance officer. The allegations from these female executives mirror a Orange County grand jury report that criticized a “culture of harassment” in county government.
Tahilramani began her career at the county after her graduation from Cal State Long Beach in 1979. After a few years in the Social Services Agency, she rose through the managerial ranks, administering public assistance programs. From there, she moved into Social Services’ human resources department and in 1996 transferred to central Human Resources.
Later, she was the HR representative for the county planning department and then for the library system before being promoted in 2007 to Waste and Recycling. In early 2008, after a short stint as assistant director of HR, she moved back to OC Waste and Recycling and was there until her departure in 2010.
At Waste & Recycling, she managed about a half-dozen staffers and administered the department’s hiring and promotions. It was during that period that she ran into trouble with then-director, now CEO, Mike Giancola. Tahilramani eventually went out on a stress leave and filed suit soon afterward.
Tahilramani sat down recently to talk with Voice of OC about her experiences.
Over the next three days, we’ll bring you excerpts from our discussion with Tahilramani regarding her allegations of abuses in county job hiring practices, workplace harassment issues and hiring practices for political aides.
Source: Voice of OC