City pays $77,500 to former employee whose boss called him an immigrant

Palo Alto City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.
Palo Alto City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.

BY BRADEN CARTWRIGHT
Daily Post Staff Writer

A former Palo Alto city employee who was called an immigrant by his boss has received a $77,500 settlement from the city, according to an agreement obtained by the Post through a California Public Records act request.

Houman Boussina was working in the city auditor’s office under Harriet Richardson in 2017, when he alleges that she introduced him to a consultant as an immigrant, according to a complaint he filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Boussina, who is from Iran, said he found the comment “derogatory and inappropriate.”

“I believe calling me an immigrant shows … Richardson’s animus toward people from Iran and all immigrants,” he wrote.

Boussina said he reported the “harassment” to City Attorney Molly Stump, and she didn’t conduct an impartial or competent investigation.

Boussina said that Richardson was retaliating against him for whistleblowing about issues with how the city auditor’s office was run. He said that Richardson also bullied him, denied him medical leave and gave him low scores on his evaluations for no reason.

This is at least the second payout to one of Richardson’s former workers. In 2020, the city paid $56,687 to Yuki Matsuura to resolve a complaint and the threat of a lawsuit.

The city auditor’s office disbanded in 2020, and the job was given to an outside firm.

The city agreed to pay Boussina in December with money budgeted each year to resolve claims like this one. Nearly half of the payout will go to Boussina’s lawyers. In exchange, he released the city of all liability stemming from his complaints.

In 2020, Boussina’s gross pay, not including fringe benefits, was $151,509 in 2020, the most recent year for which figures were available.

5 Comments

  1. $77,500 for being called an immigrant? I am available for hire, and for that much money, you can call me lots worse names than “immigrant”.

  2. I cannot understand this nonsense. People from parts of the world filled with tribal problems should leave their issues back home. Immigrant in Palo Alto is not an insult. I am an immigrant, as in born elsewhere. We have a French school, two Mandarin programs, a Spanish program, the leaders of some of our most valuable companies are immigrants, goodness gracious, what poppycock! Where does this end?

  3. Being called an immigrant is not a problem at all. But do you think the city paid out because there wasn’t more? The being-called-immigrant example was probably just the tip of the iceberg that they couldn’t legally deny. Let’s not be naive and think that a bad boss can make your life horrible. We have all worked with bad bosses and it’s more hidden than overt.

  4. Effect use of down sizing effects without direct public policy as to the need for management of city services…go figure..that Accounting function is now gone with two gone…employee and manager (as there’s not more dept. to manage) maybe three if the other payout was also with the dept. Sure save the cost of a pension.

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