The State Worker

Arbitrator dismisses Joe Dunn's lawsuit against State Bar of California

Joe Dunn is the former executive director of the State Bar of California. An arbitrator has ruled against Dunn’s claims that he was fired in retaliation. Dunn is running for Congress.
Joe Dunn is the former executive director of the State Bar of California. An arbitrator has ruled against Dunn’s claims that he was fired in retaliation. Dunn is running for Congress. Joe Dunn for Congress

An arbitrator has ruled against congressional candidate Joe Dunn's claims that his former employer, the State Bar of California, illegally fired him more than a year ago in retaliation for whistleblowing.

Dunn's lawyer vowed late Friday afternoon to continue the fight and predicted a trial later this summer. The Bar's president, meanwhile, hoped Friday's decision would put the matter to rest.

The five-part decision by retired U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Edward A. Infante also denied Dunn's claims that the Bar and key officials violated their obligation to the organization and its members by covering up illegal and unflattering conduct by employees.

The arbitrator also threw out a claim that the Bar and certain officials violated their duty to the organization and its members by, among other things, authorizing a private investigation of Dunn, covering up backlogged complaints that Dunn said he discovered and then firing him and other employees for reporting the information.

Infante also dismissed the following complaints, while giving Dunn the option of revising them and refiling:

▪ The Bar wrongly leaked a confidential report on his conduct to the media to sully Dunn's reputation and then failed to cooperate with investigators trying to find the leak's source.

▪ Certain Bar officials sabotaged Dunn's employment by commissioning a law firm to look into his conduct with the goal of terminating him.

▪ Bar officials acted in bad faith to undermine Dunn as the executive director, including making false statements and providing phony statistics to the organization's board that ran down Dunn's performance.

Infante gave Dunn, a former Democratic state senator now running to represent Orange County's 46th Congressional District, until May 1 to refile. Dunn's attorney, Mark Geragos, said, "Of course we will, and (all the defendants) will be held accountable when we try this case in August."

State Bar President David Pasternak said in a press statement that, “We are pleased that the arbitrator recognized the significant deficiencies in this lawsuit and hope this brings an end to this disruptive litigation.”

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