Julie Watts Investigating

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new report from the state auditor found the head of a California agency committed gross misconduct, retaliated against whistleblowers, and unfairly promoted her relatives. Because it was not a traditional audit, the investigation did not which agency or which director was at fault.

If you look at key players: a female director of a state agency who abruptly retired last year with a daughter and brother who worked for her agency… all indications point to Christine Baker and the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).

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Baker was the first female director of the DIR and had been with the agency for 34 years. Her daughter worked for the agency in various roles and her brother was the department’s chief information officer.

The timeline laid out in the auditor’s report also coincides with a lawsuit by a former DIR employee whistleblower, alleging she was fired in retaliation for cooperating with an auditor’s investigation.

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The auditor says they searched more than one million emails and among other things found nepotism. The report alleges the director inappropriately promoted her daughter and punished her daughter’s supervisor.

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The report also alleges the director and her daughter lied about the daughter working from home for over a year. Additionally, the auditor found a “risk to the state” because the director allegedly characterized employees by race and retaliated against whistleblowers.

According to the report, the labor agency not only failed to adequately investigate, but the secretary, which would have been David Lanier, allegedly broke the law and disclosed confidential information to the people being investigated.

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The retired director could still get a pension of more than $150,000 a year in retirement.

The governor appoints the labor secretary and governor Newsom appointed a new one in January. The current labor secretary said she is committed to preventing this type of incident in the future, but the agency still has not complied with the auditor’s recommendations.

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The auditor did not reveal the names or the agency involved because it was not a traditional audit. It was actually an investigation stemming from the Whistleblower Act, under that law, they must keep the identity of employees confidential.