DAVIS (CBS13) – A lawsuit filed against UC Davis claims the university discriminated against a veteran, which drove him to commit suicide.
It happened back in October 2015, but new details are just being released.
A decorated Air Force veteran’s life came to an end following an investigation into a wild weekend.
“This man had served his country for 23 years on active duty, and he had a chest full of metals,” said the De Los Santos’ attorney Annabelle Robertson.
After leaving the military, Col. Christopher De Los Santos took a job at UC Davis.
Three months later, the trouble spiraled quickly during a weekend retreat with co-workers with one witness claiming it was more like a booze cruise, stating De Los Santos was misbehaving.
“The next thing I know is, that he is standing there in the bathroom naked and he went into the tub,” the investigation report read.
The university launched an investigation into the alleged inappropriate behavior a day later and sent De Los Santos an email placing him on leave.
“I believe in his mind, and so does our expert, that he was immediately imagining what would happen to him in the Air Force.” Robertson.
According to the lawsuit, university administrators violated federal and state discrimination laws by treating him differently because he was a veteran.
“They were concerned that he would show up with a gun and that he would have to be escorted off campus by security and he said they made it clear that that was because he had a military background,” she said.
The lawsuit said it’s an action not taken when other employees were investigated for harassment.
“For them to have a knee-jerk reaction because in administrator in the Air Force might somehow be violent because he’s been in the military, I mean that’s blatant discrimination,” Robertson added.
Santos took his own life a few hours after receiving that email.
The university is not commenting on the lawsuit, but in a statement said:
During Col. De Los Santos’ three months with the University, he was the Chief Administrative Officer and responsible for management of all staff activities for his unit. After the University received allegations of potential sexual harassment during an overnight staff retreat, he was promptly placed on paid administrative leave so a thorough investigation could occur. The investigation addressed allegations of sexual harassment as well as other misconduct. Although many of the employees who attended the retreat were not involved in any improper conduct, those who were received appropriate disciplinary action. Other actions were taken to ensure that similar misconduct did not occur in the future.
The University is committed to maintaining a workplace that is free from sexually-harassing conduct. This commitment extends to offsite, work-related events. The University is equally committed to upholding its obligation to monitor the proper use of available resources. With sympathy to the De Los Santos family, the University maintains that the filing of this lawsuit is an unfortunate development in an already tragic situation.
The family’s attorney, Robertson, believes the suicide would have never happened had the university protected his rights as a veteran and an employee.