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Employee, Central Basin Water Cut Deal in Harassment Allegation Against Apodaca

By Brian Hews and Randy Economy

Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained a 2010 Separation Agreement and General Release (SAGR) document via a public records request between a former employee and the Central Basin Municipal Water District that outlines payments to the employee for, according to sources, not filing sexual harassment charges against embattled CBMWD Board Director Robert “Bob” Apodaca.

HMG-CN exclusively reported on a separate harassment claim against Apodaca brought by Sigrid H. Lopez and filed on July 3 of this year.

The SAGR dictates a payment of $1,700 in vacation and sick leave, standard payout when an employee leaves an organization.

It also paid $1,500 for one month of medical premiums and $4,300 for the amount the CBMWD would have paid to CalPERS for one year.

But on the last line of the payment agreement, a 37-day salary-the “Severance Pay”- amounting to over $18,000 is listed. Total payout was $25,500.

“A SAGR is typically a “gotcha” that specifies the terms of your termination, to your employer’s advantage,” says Jeff Ward a labor lawyer in Norwalk.

“The agreement is a contract in which you relinquish your legal rights, while the severance is effectively a bribe to influence you to sign it,” Ward said.

The document states, “if you do not enter into this agreement you will not be entitled to Severance Pay described above.”

The second page defines the “Terms of the Agreement” and states, “this agreement shall not be in anyway construed as an admission by the district that it has acted wrongfully with respect to you.”

It goes on to say that, “in exchange for the promises contained in this agreement the district will pay you the Severance Payment. You acknowledge that you would not be entitled to the Severance Payment but for the execution of this agreement.”

“It is exactly what I said,” Ward commented after reviewing the document, “the person would not have received the severance unless they signed the document which released the District from all claims.”

One clause in the SAGR states that the employee will “irrevocably release, acquit, and forever discharge the District and its employees against any claims.
The clause specifically mentions “claims including but not limited to discrimination and harassment, based on race, religion…sex.”

The agreement goes on to say, “you shall not bring any administrative or legal action and the employee waives and releases any rights they might have to recover in any lawsuit or proceeding brou3ght by them.”

It also states that the employee will not disclose the agreement to anyone.

“The employee agreed that the consideration set forth in the SAGR, which is in addition to anything of value to which they might otherwise be entitled, constituted a complete and final settlement of any and all causes of actions or claims they had,” said Ward. “The employee has no recourse.”

Several calls into Apodaca for comment went unanswered.

Click here to see PDF of Agreement

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