3rd District Supervisor Todd Spitzer fired back at ex-aide Christine Richters, issuing a statement calling her allegations against him “disheartening, misleading and simply untrue” and saying the County would fight her lawsuit.
Spitzer declared that, contrary to Ms. Richters’ claims, he and his office supported her search for other job opportunities, but characterized her as lacking basic job skills necessary to secure a civil service job with the County.
Richter worked for Spitzer’s 2012 supervisorial campaign. He subsequently hired her as an executive assistant in February 2013, a position she held until her firing in October 2016. Last week, Richter filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, alleging multiple violations of labor and disability rules, and charging Spitzer with a “raging temper” and saying he ran his office through “fear and aggression.”
Spitzer’s statement leaves unanswered the question of why he hired and kept on the County payroll for three years someone whom he now claims lacked the basic job skills to work for the County.
Following is the statement from Spitzer’s office:
Supervisor Spitzer’s Statement on False and Misleading Allegations from Christine Richters.
Spitzer pledges to protect taxpayer dollars against baseless claim
(Orange County, March 28, 2017) – The recent false allegations by Ms. Christine Richters are disheartening, misleading, and simply untrue. The County has decided to fight Ms. Richters’ claim and unwarranted attempt to smear the County, Supervisor Todd Spitzer and members of his staff.
It is documented that in order for Ms. Richters to perform her job responsibilities, it was necessary for her to be current with her job skills. Spitzer’s office offered Richters the opportunity to stay as an employee as long as she learned basic computer skills to which she refused. Despite being counseled numerous times by the Chief of Staff and Supervisor Spitzer to learn basic computer skills that would equip her with the necessary skills to do her job, she refused to do so.
When Richters informed the Supervisor’s office that she wanted to seek a different job in the County, Supervisor Spitzer’s office aided her in that pursuit. It is also documented that Supervisor Spitzer was completely aware and supportive of her effort to seek other job opportunities, despite her false accusations.
“Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts to assist Ms. Richters, she was unable to secure a permanent civil service position with the County,” said Supervisor Todd Spitzer.
For twenty-five years Supervisor Spitzer has worked late nights and weekends on behalf of the taxpayer. Supervisor Spitzer has tremendously high expectations of government employees to perform their job and keep current with their skills. Working as an Executive Assistant for an elected official is by nature, a demanding job.
Ms. Richters filed a lawsuit against the County simply to gouge the taxpayers for her unwillingness to adapt and gain even the most fundamental computer skills that would have resulted in either remaining with Supervisor Spitzer or testing favorably for another County job.
UPDATED (March 29 at 11:23 a.m.): We received this response from Devon Lyon, who is representing Mr. Richters in her litigation against Spitzer and the County:
“Christine Richters was a devoted civil servant who was unlawfully terminated by the County as a result of her disability. Supervisor Spitzer also recklessly violated multiple wage and hour laws including, docking employee pay for their failure to return his text messages within 15 minutes.
The County’s excuse that Ms. Richters was not qualified to do her job and did not submit to “basic” computer skills training after 3 years as an Executive Aide and a campaign aide with Supervisor Spitzer’s political campaign is nonsensical, untrue and a mere pretext to cover up their unlawful reason.
This litigation will not only deliver justice to Ms. Richters but will expose the abusive and unlawful behavior exhibited by Supervisor Spitzer towards County employees. The County of Orange and Supervisor Spitzer, a man who has aspirations of being the County’s top attorney, must be held liable for their egregious behavior.”
We’ve also contacted Spitzer’s office to ask why the supervisor hired Ms. Richters as a county staffer and kept her on the county payroll for more than three years if he judged her to lack the basic computer skills necessary to work for the County?
UPDATE (March 29 at 3:11 p.m.): We received this reply from Spitzer’s Communications Director, Matt Morrison:
“Supervisor Spitzer’s statement is all he is offering at this time.”