Former UC Berkeley employee sues UC regents alleging termination was retaliation for complaints

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A former UC Berkeley employee filed a lawsuit against the UC Board of Regents on Thursday, alleging that his supervisors pressured him to perform craft jobs outside the scope of his job and terminated him because he complained about these conditions.

Antonio Castellanos worked at UC Berkeley for 25 years and at the time of his termination was a Facilities Manager II at the campus Space Sciences Laboratory, or SSL. According to the lawsuit, during his time in this position, his supervisors repeatedly asked him to perform craft jobs, though his duties were to coordinate work projects and personnel, process work orders and maintain chemical and equipment inventory, among other administrative duties.

According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, the campus intends to contest Castellanos’ allegations.

The lawsuit alleged that around April 2013 Castellanos’ supervisor directed him to perform craft jobs, such as carpentry, painting and custodial services that were outside the scope of his job. Later that month, Castellanos’ supervisor also allegedly assigned him to supervise a craft worker who performed electrical, plumbing and custodial duties. The lawsuit states that Castellanos felt uncomfortable supervising him because these duties allegedly fell outside his job position.

In June 2014, Castellanos’ supervisors allegedly requested that he install a ventilation system for a walk-in freezer, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit stated that Castellanos forwarded the request to the director of physical plant campus services, or PP-CS, who told him and his supervisor that the installation must be completed by a PP-CS employee.

Because of the additional duties placed on him, the lawsuit stated, Castellanos repeatedly requested a position reclassification. One such request was denied by the campus in January 2015, though it acknowledged “some of (Castellanos’) job responsibilities and percentages (had) changed,” according to the lawsuit.

In April 2015, Castellanos called the UC Berkeley whistleblower hotline and reported his concerns. He was terminated a month later with the campus citing a “lack of funding.”

“(The) stated rationale for (Castellanos’) termination, “lack of funding,” is pre textual in nature,” the lawsuit alleges, “(The UC regents) had budgeted for Plaintiff’s position and even gave him a 4% equity increase, three months prior to his termination.”

In June 2015, Castellanos filed a whistleblower retaliation to appropriate officers at UC Berkeley, though a campus investigation found his allegations to be unsubstantiated.

Castellanos is suing the UC regents for the cost of his for compensatory damages for lost wages and noneconomic damages as well as for punitive damages, among other fees.

Jessica Lynn is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jessicailynn.