CalPERS Attorneys Ask: “Who Is Representing You? As
Board Member Sues over Retaliation for “Representing Members”
The CalPers Board has many duties – including protecting its more than $300 billion in financial assets. But ultimately their job is to represent and protect you, the hard working members of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.
So, this month, our CalPERS disability retirement attorneys found it particularly troubling that CalPERS board member Margaret Brown felt it was necessary to sue CalPERS over alleged retaliation for “representing members.”
Ms. Brown, a long-time members’ right advocate, claimed in her lawsuit that she was wrongly punished in efforts “to silence one of the only watchdogs on the CalPERS board”.
What Lead to CalPERS Lawsuit
Henry Jones is serving his fourth term, and second year as president, on the CalPERS Board of Administration. He served three years as CalPERS vice president of the Board, prior to his presidency.
According to Ms. Brown’s lawsuit, she was informed by Mr. Jones via email in December that he had concluded that her conduct was not consistent with a CalPERS board member’s responsibilities and, therefore, was to imposing several disciplinary measures against her.
It is Ms. Browns belief that she was, however, disciplined in retaliation for her “willingness to represent the interests of CalPERS members—sometimes in opposition to other CalPERS board members.”
The disciplinary action was allegedly for engaging in conduct that “fails to meet the standards of ethical conduct anticipated by the governance policy,” and including having her travel privileges suspended until June 30. She was also required to take additional training, which she contends in unrelated to the charges and which she had previously already completed.
Ms. Brown’s Position on CalPERS Lawsuit
Ms. Brown believes that her discipline was arbitrary, and unilaterally and capriciously imposed by Jones, the board president, without affording Brown the opportunity to go before the CalPERS board as a whole.
At the root of the claim is Ms. Brown belief that Jones is trying to silence her as an advocate for the members – since: “The discipline imposed included restrictions on Brown’s ability to communicate with those members she was elected to represent.”
Who’s on the CalPERS Board
CalPERS is governed by a 13-member board of administration, six are elected official, three are appointed, and four are “ex officio members” (who agree to serve in a position because the organization needs their expertise).
Of the six elected board members, only two are elected by and from “all active CalPERS members”. Ms Brown is one of the two board members who was elected by all CalPERS members.
This begs the question – if the President of CalPERS can unilaterally decide to discipline or silence one of only 2 member-elected board members – are members fairly being represented?
CalPERS Disability Retirement Attorneys
While these CalPERS “internal affairs” may not seem to affect you personally, the ability of the Board to communicate with it’s members is a sacred right that influences how CalPERS administers your retirement fund – and could eventually affect your benefits!
Rest assured that our disability retirement attorneys continuously monitor what goes on “behind the scenes” at CalPERS in order to give you the best advice possible in terms of your disability retirement and pension benefits.
If you have any questions about your disability retirement benefits, feel free to give our attorneys a call to set up an appointment. If you are injured on the job close to the time you intend to retire, we would be happy to help you determine your eligibility for disability retirement under the CalPERs system.
CalPERS Disability Retirement Attorneys: 562-622-4800
This article applies to members of California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS); and does not reflect the rules, laws or regulations governing how other public retirement systems are administered. If you have question about another public employee retirement system, find your system, below – or call our attorneys at: 562-622-4800