Wednesday, August 02, 2017


by Bob Walsh

I worked for 24 years for the Calif. Dep. of Corrections. I have been retired for over 12 years and all my time was at the institutions. I met a lot of good people, a lot of average people and a modest but irritating number of assholes. Some of those assholes had a great deal of power. They just didn't give a shit because nothing bad ever happened to anybody within CDC for misuse of that power.

Jeff Schmeling had been a long-serving member of the custody staff at San Quentin. He was sacked in 2007 for not turning in paperwork indicating he had taken his mandatory TB test in a timely manner. (This is a condition of employment for all correctional workers and is required for all prisoners. There is no waiver possible.) The department continued to maintain that sacking him was legitimate even after a ruling by the Superior Court in a similar case.

Schmeling said in his appeal that he had in fact taken the test in a timely manner and that the nurse who handled the test had the results and, to the best of his knowledge, had forwarded those results. (Most of the employees use department medical staff to accomplish this requirement though there is no requirement that it happen that way.)

In May Schmeling was notified that his name was on the non-compliance list and that he had to demonstrate that he had taken the test in the required time frame or he would be sacked. He had until June 4 to comply. He took the test again on June 4 and got the results on June 6, the normal time delay for reading such a test. The department had, however, already canned him.

In 2008 the Department offered to reinstate Schmeling. Schmeling then dropped his appeal but the department stiffed him.

In 2011 a new warden made the same offer. The department stiffed him again.

Schmeling pursued his legal options. An ALJ ruling in his favor, but the department appealed.

In August of 2012 Schmeling died of an aneurysm. In November the SPB ruled in favor of the Department.

His widow had continued the civil suit. Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ordered the department to pay back wages owed to his widow, a tad over $500,000. The judge ruled that the firing violated the state constitutional prohibition against firing employees for medical reasons. The Department appealed to the Third District Court of Appeal and the SPB.

The wheels finally stopped spinning. After the Sacramento BEE made a pointed inquiry as to what was causing the delay in payment the state coughed up the $130,000 in interest it owed and began to process the payment of the principle.

Before his death Schmeling had been living in his car at a campground, having run thru his savings and cashed out his retirement in an effort to keep afloat. While doing so he re-connected with an old girlfriend and they married while all this drama was going on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His death was probably assisted by the stress he had to endure at the hands of his employer. RIP.