Fired DA investigator alleges age bias

A long-time employee of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit claiming San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon discriminated against her because of her age and fired her without cause.

San Francisco resident Natividad Ramirez was hired as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office in July 1985. She received positive reviews, raises and was promoted five times prior to her termination, according to the complaint filed last week by Ramirez’ attorney Daniel Ray Bacon.

In August 2014, at the age of 59, Ramirez was terminated from her position as Assistant Chief Victim/Witness Investigator and Director of the Subpoena Division.

She was just ten months shy of receiving a retirement benefit granted to individuals who choose to retire at 60, according to the suit.

The lawsuit claims that the District Attorney’s Office discriminated against her because of her age, violating the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

A few weeks prior to her termination, Ramirez received a letter explaining that the District Attorney’s Office was investigating reports concerning her attendance.

The letter from the District Attorney’s Office’s chief administrative and financial officer, Eugene Clendinen, states that there were reports that Ramirez was routinely engaged in non-work activities on company time.

The suit notes that Ramirez is a co-owner of a nearby restaurant and often spends her lunch break there, but was careful not to let her restaurant visits interfere with her duties at the District Attorney’s Office.

The suit claims that the “Defendants’ baseless investigation was simply pretext for its unlawful decision to terminate Plaintiff because of her age.” The complaint also alleges that the person hired to replace Ramirez was almost half Ramirez’ age, less experienced, and was paid significantly less than Ramirez had been paid.

It is a common practice by the District Attorney’s Office to terminate older employees to make way for a “younger, more inexpensive workforce,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit states that as a result of her termination, Ramirez has suffered humiliation, distress and discomfort, as well as having been forced to incur attorney’s fees, lost wages and lost employee benefits.

San Francisco District Attorney’s Office spokesman Alex Bastian said he cannot comment on the case because it’s a personnel matter.