Jury awards $2.1M to fired SDG&E worker

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SAN DIEGO — A jury awarded $2.1million to a former San Diego Gas & Electric employee who claimed he was fired after he complained that the utility was targeting low-income households with late fees.

David Bryant, who worked for SDG&E for 23 years, said he was fired three years ago for complaining that the utility was targeting densely-populated low-income neighborhoods with hand-delivered late notices. Each notice was worth an extra $9 to the company.

Bryant said he supervised workers who would systematically fan out to deliver more notices with less effort  in neighborhoods like City Heights, something that wasn’t done in rural areas or places like La Jolla, Del Mar or Encinitas.

Bryant claimed the company was also charging extra fees to customers who were told their electricity was shut off when in reality it wasn’t.

“It wasn’t right,” Bryant said. “As big as this corporation is, as much money they bring in from other areas of the company, it’s not really necessary to go after the poor that way.”

Bryant said he brought his concerns to his supervisors who “spent their energy and resources fighting me.”

Three years ago, Bryant was terminated. He sued SDG&E and its parent company Sempra Energy. He won his case, the court awarded Bryant $860,00 in compensatory damages and $1.3 million in punitive damages.

San Diego Gas Electric issued the following statement about the case:

“San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) strongly disagrees with the outcome of the trial and we plan to appeal. We believe that the evidence presented at trial showed that we reached the decision to terminate Mr. Bryant’s employment after a comprehensive investigation of allegations that he conducted himself at work in a manner that violated company policies. Forty employees were interviewed as a part of this investigation and it was determined that he engaged in extremely inappropriate conduct for a supervisor. We have numerous channels for employees to report unethical behaviors and all claims are investigated thoroughly. SDG&E investigated Mr. Bryant’s claims and found them to be without merit.”

 

2 comments

  • sddoublee

    SDGE lies. I don't know anything about this employee but SDGE is a monopoly that has been stealing money from San Diego folks for many years. Three times the real cost of electricity is what they are getting. Got solar yet? Pay the Chinese for their panels so you don't have to rely on SDGE? That's the American way.

  • amallred

    As a former supervisor and brother and spouse of former employees (both terminated on trumped up “policy violations”), I can attest to SDG&E’s long history of ignoring reports of unethical behavior, especially if the reports implicate management personnel. The “channels” for reporting exist only to avoid company embarrassment and provide managers and directors employees names and methods of fabricating “evidence” so those employees can be terminated. SDG&E’s numerous “reporting channels” exist only for risk management.

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