Former City Official Carmen Cave Files Complaint of Wrongful Termination, Gender and Age Discrimination Against Menifee

Former Community Development Director Carmen Cave has filed a complaint of gender and age discrimi...

Former Community Development Director Carmen Cave has filed a complaint of gender and age discrimination and wrongful termination against the City of Menifee. Her attorney has informed the City of her intent to sue for damages.

The Menifee City Council has scheduled a closed session prior to its Sept. 18 meeting to confer with legal counsel regarding the complaint. City officials cannot comment on potential or pending litigation.

Cave served as community development director from Aug. 3, 2009 until July 2, 2013, when she was terminated after a meeting with Interim City Manager Rob Johnson. Cave subsequently filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, claiming discrimination and requesting from its office a right to sue. The DFEH acknowledged Cave's right to sue in a letter to Cave dated Aug. 20.

In the complaint filed with DFEH, Cave, 48, alleges that she was discriminated against due to her age and sex and "was retaliated against for making protected complaints." She alleges wrongful termination and claims that following her termination, the city unlawfully created a new position of Planning Manager, which she believes performs some of the duties she had performed and which was given to a person who is "substantially younger" than she.

Cave further alleges in the DFEH complaint that she was denied equal pay on the basis of her sex related to male colleagues and that she made protected complaints prior to her termination that she believes led to her termination.

In a July 15 interview with Menifee 24/7, Johnson (right) denied rumors that he was pressured by city council members to fire Cave. However, a complaint sent to the City of Menifee by Cave's attorney, Darren J. Campbell, states that "Dr. Cave understands that Mr. Johnson was given the choice of either being terminated himself or terminating Dr. Cave's employment."

In that document, Cave says she refused to resign and was terminated.

Cave, who currently is serving as mayor of the city of Aliseo Viejo, has informed the city she intends to bring claims against the city in Riverside County Superior Court for damages in excess of $10,000. She claims she was paid wages that were 10-20 percent less than her male counterparts and received benefits that were significantly less than them.

The document lists Cave's salary at the time of her termination as $120,000 per year with benefits. She states in the letter that her damages are approximately $10,000 per month and that she has been under medical care related to her termination due to emotional distress.

Cave further alleges that she made multiple complaints concerning several issues, including the handling of the city's General Plan. This is required by law to be finalized within 30 months of incorporation, which for Menifee would've been April 2011.

The city applied for two one-year extensions, however, and Cave alleges she made complaints that the city was not complying with California law with respect to the General Plan or the housing element of that plan, which requires that cities demonstrate they have allowed for appropriate zoning for affordable housing. Cave claims city officials "did not want to provide for such housing."

The City Council's closed session to discuss this matter will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, prior to the council's regularly scheduled 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall, 29714 Haun Road.


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