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Former employee sues Caltrans for retaliation after reporting porn exchanges

The lawsuit claims Caltrans employees at the Stockton office were exchanging pornography using state computers.
Caltrans

A former Caltrans employee is suing the agency claiming she faced retaliation after reporting pornography exchanges between other employees in the Stockton office.

Rachel Elizondo was monitoring her then boss's email while he was on vacation on July 2009. She was looking for information regarding ongoing projects, instead she found porn.

"There were prominent people within Caltrans that were on that email," Elizondo said.

As part of an internal investigation, a Caltrans employee admitted that "for two to three years he had viewed, downloaded, and forwarded sexually explicit emails or images to and from his state assigned computer to only those who requested them."

"You don't think that things like that happen in a public or state office," Elizondo said. "You think those things are monitored."

In the lawsuit, she claims she had to deal with menacing glares, hostility in the workplace and more.

"I was being told to watch it because a lot of these people were upset with me. Shortly after that, one of the vehicles that I drive to work, the windows were all smashed at my home residence," Elizondo said. "Several months after that, one of my tires had been slashed."

In 2010, she was passed up for a promotion.

"And of course because everything was out there about the pornography she told me, 'you knew you weren't going to get that job,'" Elizondo said referring to a coworker.

In the lawsuit, Elizondo claims that same coworker told her she was the most qualified for the job.

"Ultimately, this is your, mine and your viewer's taxpayer money," John A. Shepardson, Elizondo's lawyer said. "And they're spending their time and our money watching pornography."

Elizondo, who quit her job in 2014, told News10 she had once before sued Caltrans in 2008 claiming racial discrimination. The court ruled against in that case. Now, she's suing for damages alleging violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act.

"I received nothing to protect me," Elizondo said.

A spokesperson for Caltrans said they can't comment on the ongoing case. The trial is set for July 2015.

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