California upholds firing of top black judge
The first black woman to be the chief judge at the California Public Utilities Commission lost a bid to reclaim her job this week when the State Personnel Board rejected her argument that she experienced racial discrimination and whistleblower retaliation in her eight years at the energy regulator.
Former PUC Chief Administrative Law Judge Karen Clopton has one more shot to return to her position overseeing the 40 or so judges who weigh complaints regarding the state’s largest energy companies.
She’s suing the commission in San Francisco Superior Court, where she alleges she experienced racial discrimination and retaliation for cooperating with investigations that drew attention to cozy relationships between Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the civil servants who were supposed to regulate the company’s operations. The complaint argues that the scrutiny she faced in her final years at the commission was motivated in part by racial discrimination.
The State Personnel Board, which settles disputes between state workers and their employers, found there was no connection between Clopton’s August 2017 dismissal and her cooperation with the investigations that exposed ties between PG&E and the commission.