BY DUANE W. GANG
STAFF WRITER
dgang@pe.com

Published: 15 February 2012 05:59 PM

A federal judge this week ruled against the Service Employees International Union in a lawsuit that claimed the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department retaliated against the union’s chief labor negotiator for her involvement in the organization.

SEIU Local 721 and Wendy Thomas, the chief negotiator and a 911 dispatch supervisor, sued in December 2010, contending department managers transferred her multiple times in two years and began tracking her union activities.

The lawsuit argued that the moves were in retaliation for becoming active in the union and helping other employees file grievances. The lawsuit accused the county of violating Thomas’ First Amendment right to free speech and her equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.

The county denied the accusations and U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips in Riverside on Monday issued a 52-page ruling in the county’s favor. In July, Phillips had granted the union an injunction against Riverside County, preventing the involuntary transfer of Thomas, while the case worked its way through the court.

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