A Los Angeles water agency paid more than $1.5 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit, worker’s compensation claim and attorney fees for a case involving a worker who was on the job for just one week.
In 2013, the Central Basin Municipal Water Agency hired Ron Beilke as assistant to General Manager Chuck Fuentes. Beilke was a former mayor of Pico Rivera, and had helped hire Fuentes as the city manager there.
While mayor, Beilke was convicted of political misconduct stemming from votes on a roadway project that benefitted a restaurant he owned. He then was employed by another water agency before being hired by Central Basin.
Seven days after he began the $98,000-a-year job, the agency’s new governing board placed an item on a meeting agenda to terminate him. Two hours after the agenda was released, Beilke crashed headfirst into a wall on the second floor of the district’s headquarters. One employee said she heard him running down the hall, and described Beilke as being stretched out like Superman as his head collided with the wall, leaving a large hole in the wallboard.
Beilke was taken away by paramedics in a neck brace, collected worker’s compensation and sued for wrongful termination. The agency commissioned a report from quoted employees who questioned whether the fall had been deliberate. Beilke denied the allegations and said he knew nothing of the upcoming firing. Additionally, Beilke credited God for the fall, telling the Los Angeles Times: “Maybe it was just divine intervention. Maybe someone was looking out for me without killing me.”
Beilke collected more than $300,000 in worker’s compensation benefits, then filed suit claiming he was terminated for investigating corruption within the water agency. The agency spent $710,000 to defend against the suit before settling for $425,000.
Today, Beilke works at a solar farm in El Mirage run by a former Central Basin executive. (Source: Los Angeles Times, January 31.)