, August 09, 2022

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Vallejo police lieutenant files harassment lawsuit against city

  •   2 min reads
Vallejo police lieutenant files harassment lawsuit against city
Vallejo police Lt. Herman Robinson. Photo: Vallejo Police Department.

VALLEJO – A Vallejo police lieutenant, who was reinstated after he was fired last year, has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit while also alleging he has been the target of age discrimination and harassment by Chief Shawny Williams.

Lt. Herman Robinson filed his lawsuit in Solano County Superior Court last month alleging that Williams, along with his command staff, have refused to allow Robinson to return to work, despite an arbitrator overturning a decision to terminate him.

“Despite Robinson’s reinstatement, Williams and his subordinates, in retaliation Robinson’s success at arbitration, have refused, variously, to allow him to carry a firearm, wear a uniform, to work as a police officer, and even to provide him the correct documents in a timely fashion to be reinstated as a Vallejo employee,” Robinson alleged in his lawsuit.

An arbitrator ordered Robinson be reinstated with back pay with 10% interest after Williams fired him on April 1, 2021. Williams accused Robinson of allegedly sending out confidential information.

While not going into the same detail in the lawsuit, Robinson previously claimed he was fired after communicating with former police Capt. John Whitney, who publicly revealed officers' practice of badge bending to mark an on-duty shooting. Whitney — who was fired from the department in 2019 and is also suing the city for wrongful termination — is now an El Cerrito police officer.

The lawsuit states that Robinson was fired, in part, because he shared that nine officers, including himself, were changing assignments. Williams said that information was confidential police business, according to the lawsuit.

Robinson also claimed that Williams was angry that a lieutenant made more money than the chief of police.

“Williams has expressed he was disturbed at Robinson’s earnings, as a result of his long hours, and said ‘no person in the department is going to make more money than me as chief,’” the lawsuit alleges.

Robinson was one of the most highly paid city of Vallejo employees and received $179,590 in base pay and $196,941 in overtime pay for calendar year 2020, according to Transparent California, a website which tracks California government worker salaries. With benefits included, Robinson earned $547,403.68. Williams, at the same time, made only $261,606 in base salary with his total compensation package reaching $419,000, according to similar data from Transparent California.

Robinson alleges that since Williams joined Vallejo police toward the end of 2019 he began a campaign of targeting senior members of the police force.  Robinson served 47-years with the Vallejo Police Department prior to being fired.

Robinson’s lawsuit alleges that Williams and his command staff were heard saying that Robinson’s “best days were behind him in the police department.”

Robinson further alleges that Williams provided false testimony during the arbitration hearing. As before, Robinson didn’t go into detail in his lawsuit, but he previously alleged that under oath, Williams claimed former Vallejo Police Chief Joseph Kreins concurred with Williams that the allegations against Robinson “merited termination.” Kreins, however, testified under oath that he never had such a conversation with Williams about Robinson and that the charges levied against Robinson did not merit termination.

Williams didn’t immediately respond to questions about Robinson’s allegations.

Following his reinstatement, Robinson was congratulated by a group of about 50 people, including some uniformed Vallejo officers, on the steps in front of the department.

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