Tuesday, July 16, 2019

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Goes to Court over Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Retaliation and Other Charges

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan is headed to court tomorrow to face allegations that he’s using an illegal lawsuit to try to silence a former SEIU-UHW staffer who spoke to the media about Regan’s alleged sexual misconduct, drinking on the job, backroom deals with employers, illegal electioneering and other misconduct.

The courtroom action, emerging at the same time that Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest brings renewed attention to the #MeToo movement, will be heard on July 17 in Riverside County (Calif.) Superior Court, according to court records.

Here’s what’s going on:

On March 1st, Payday Report published an article quoting an SEIU-UHW organizer who said Regan has had sexual relations with SEIU-UHW members and staffers, often drinks on the job, and carries out campaigns of retaliation against staffers and union members who raise criticisms.

Days later, Regan’s Chief of Staff Greg Pullman reportedly interrogated the 42-year-old woman organizer and fired her.

Next, on March 21st, Regan used SEIU-UHW’s money and lawyers to sue the former staffer, Njoki Woods, for allegedly defaming him through her comments to the press, which Regan says are false. Regan calls on the court to force Woods to pay an unspecified amount of punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and court fees to Regan. See a copy of the lawsuit below.

On June 11, Woods filed a motion asserting that Regan’s lawsuit is an illegal attempt to retaliate against her for exercising her right to free speech. She defends her earlier statements to Payday Report as truthful. See a copy of the motion below.

How could Regan’s lawsuit be illegal?

Woods says it violates a California law called the “Anti-SLAPP” statute (“Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation”). The law is intended to prevent powerful people from using their money and lawyers to silence members of the public by tying them up with groundless, expensive lawsuits.

In her anti-SLAPP motion, Woods says her statements to Payday Report are “true statements of facts and opinion she made to a reporter. The reporter published an article based on her statements and now Plaintiffs [Regan and SEIU-UHW] are retaliating against Defendant [Woods] for exercising her freedom of speech.”

Woods’ motion says “it was understood to be common knowledge that Plaintiff Regan and Marcus Hatcher, director of Plaintiff SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division, had sexual relations with members and staff of the Union…” The motion references a second lawsuit (Mindy Sturge v. SEIU-UHW) that makes similar allegations of sexual misconduct by Regan and other top officials at SEIU-UHW.

Her motion continues:
“Defendant [Woods], throughout her employment for SEIU-UHW, had personal knowledge that Regan drank alcohol while serving his duties as president of the Union. This was evident by sensing, through smell, the odor of alcohol on his breath, and by vision, by frequently exhibiting a flushed face, red, bloodshot, watery eyes. He also slurred his speech, made inappropriate comments, amongst other visual signals of abuse of alcohol.”

In her motion, Woods offers additional details to back up her comments to the press. For example, she describes how her direct supervisor, Grisell Rodriguez, rewarded one of Woods’ coworkers for engaging in a sexual relationship with him. When Woods raised concerns about his actions to Regan and the union’s leaders, they did nothing, she says.
Riverside Superior Court
Woods, who is African-American, also describes how her supervisor and other staff subjected her to racist comments and treatment.
Woods “spoke only the truth, based on her personal experience and knowledge. Woods witnessed the following: employees getting promoted due to the sexual relations those individuals had with other employees of SEIU-UHW; Plaintiff Regan exhibiting symptoms of drinking alcohol while serving his duties as president of the Union; Plaintiff Regan addressing the Union membership, stating that SEIU-UHW would ‘go after’ members who made allegations against the Union while flashing the phone numbers of attorneys in plain view of those in attendance; being called a ‘black bitch’ by co-workers Bustamante and Saldana and her supervisor, Rodríguez; being segregated by race by being told by her supervisor to ‘go sit with your peers’ meaning the other black people; and being told that she had to give money and campaign on her personal time for Plaintiff Regan and his candidates.”
“Therefore, Plaintiffs’ [Regan’s] claim for defamation must fail because Woods merely stated the truth based on her personal experiences and knowledge while working for Plaintiffs.” (pp. 7-8)

Woods’ motion says Regan fired her and sued her to “chill her right to free speech.” In order for Regan to prevail in his defamation case, he must show that Woods’ statements were made with knowledge that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth. If Woods wins, Regan will have to pay all of her attorneys’ fees and any costs associated with the suit.

One thing is clear: Regan’s decision to target Woods with a lawsuit has only focused more attention on the allegations surrounding his behavior and SEIU-UHW’s inner workings. Stay tuned to Regan’s legal misadventure as more details are sure to spill out like so many maggots from freshly disturbed roadkill.