The county will pay $150,000 to a former aid for Supervisor Todd Spitzer who accused her ex boss of wrongful termination, of not paying overtime, and of having such a “raging temper” that her health was damaged.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday, Sept. 26, to settle Christine Richters’ lawsuit.
Richters, 51, who worked in Spitzer’s office from February 2013 through October 2016, sued in March, alleging Spitzer required employees to be “on stand-by 24-hours per day, 7 days per week to respond to any text message,” and that she frequently worked overtime without pay. She said Spitzer ran his office “through means of fear and aggression,” causing her to experience depression and other health issues, and that she was fired illegally after requesting a transfer to a new position.
Part of the $150,000 payment covers the county’s alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act – a federal law that establishes national minimum wage and overtime pay rules – according to the settlement agreement. Richters’ settlement is more than she earned in base pay during the three years she worked for Spitzer.
The case marks the second time in two months that the county has settled lawsuits connected to Spitzer.
In August, the county paid $121,000 to cover the legal fees incurred by the investigative news organization Voice of OC, which spent the money to obtain documents Spitzer wrote about a 2015 incident in which Spitzer detained a man he said was threatening him as he ate at a restaurant. The county had sought to withhold those documents.
Spitzer’s current chief of staff, Melanie Eustice, wrote in a prepared statement released Tuesday that the county settled the lawsuit because fighting the case would have cost more, and due to “a technical issue surrounding overtime exemptions and at-will employment.”
Spitzer, who is running for Orange County District Attorney, has denied Richters’ allegations about his temper and office environment, dismissing them as “misleading and simply untrue.”
Richters and Spitzer first worked together in 2011, when she hired Spitzer, then working as a private attorney, to sue the District Attorney’s office to get records related to a case involving her then minor daughter. In 2012, Spitzer hired Richters to work for his campaign in his bid for county supervisor. A year later, after he won the election, he hired her to work in his office.
Richters’ lawsuit included a memo from…