MONTEREY COUNTY — A 23-year veteran of the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against his former employer alleging he was illegally fired after helping to form a union, refusing to endorse candidates for sheriff and opposing the sexual harassment of female deputies by Sheriff’s Office leadership.
Former Sgt. Bryan Hoskins was hired as a deputy in 1999 and served until March 2023. In 2021, he became vice president of the newly recognized County of Monterey Patrol Association or COMPA, an acronym that translates to slang for “friend” in Spanish. Hoskins alleges he was asked to endorse the competing election campaigns of Marina Police Chief Tina Nieto and sheriff’s Capt. Joseph Moses — both of whom were running for sheriff.
Hoskins declined to endorse either candidate and was subsequently investigated by internal affairs for improper use of overtime in spring 2022, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys at the law firm Greenberg Gross LLP. They argue the investigation was opened on the basis of an anonymous letter sent by “persons acting on behalf of Nieto’s campaign.”
That summer, Hoskins complained to superiors that former Undersheriff John Mineau had sexually harassed multiple female deputies. He was told that “it was none of his concern” and “he should not be talking about the issue,” according to the lawsuit.
Hoskins allegedly received one final phone call from Nieto’s campaign asking for an endorsement on Oct. 12, 2022.
“The morning after his last refusal, Hoskins was informed he was placed on administrative leave. After Nieto took office, Hoskins’s employment was unlawfully terminated,” the complaint states.
In an effort to defend his career, Hoskins invoked his right to a “Skelly” hearing, which allows him to respond to the accusations before an officer with the authority to modify the proposed disciplinary action, according to the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.
The Skelly officer assigned to Hoskins’ hearing, however, was Undersheriff Keith Boyd, who had allegedly accused of Hoskins of stealing from the office in the past.
Boyd allegedly recommended that Nieto terminate Hoskins’ employment. Hoskins’ attorneys argue that his association with the harassed women, complaints about the harassment, and refusal to endorse political candidates as a leader in COMPA were all significant factors in his firing. They’re suing Nieto and the county for financial damages on allegations of retaliation for engaging in protected activity and other violations of state labor laws.
“Sheriff Nieto and the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office wrongfully terminated Mr. Hoskins’ employment because he resisted repeated requests to endorse Sheriff Nieto during her election campaign and stood up for women who had been sexually harassed in the workplace,” attorney Claire-Lise Kutlay wrote in an email last week while responding to a request for comment on behalf of her client. “Mr. Hoskins was an accomplished Investigative Sergeant who had a 100 percent homicide clearance rate from 2019 to 2021.”
Terry Leoni, general counsel for the patrol association, said via email that COMPA declined to comment on Hoskins’ lawsuit against the county. Leoni is, however, representing Hoskins in an administrative appeal challenging his dismissal.
“Bryan Hoskins was a valued, dedicated, and decorated law enforcement officer who was swallowed up in petty politics and grudges,” Leoni said. “We look forward to getting him back to work so that he can once again get justice for victims of Monterey County.”
A Monterey County representative responded to a news inquiry on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office but declined to comment on the litigation.
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