Whistleblower Sues California Public Pension After Alleged Threat of Dismissal

An investment analyst has sued the $5.5 billion Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association for allegedly threatening to fire him after he accused the fund’s CIO of falsifying time slips.

(July 28, 2011)—An investment analyst for the Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association (ACERA) has claimed in a lawsuit that the $5.5 billion public pension plan threatened to fire him after he accused the fund’s chief investment officer of falsifying time slips to receive full pay while actually taking a vacation.

In the lawsuit filed earlier this month in Alameda County Superior Court, Anthony Macaulay alleged that Chief Investment Officer Betty Tse received more than $14,000 for working when she was actually taking a vacation. When Macaulay raised alarms about the impropriety, the suit claimed, he was given a notice of dismissal, though after he filed an internal complaint he was placed on paid administrative leave two weeks later.

According to the lawsuit, Macaulay seeks job reinstatement and unspecified damages to be determined by a jury. Macaulay, who is black, also accused ACERA of racial discrimination.

“The facts alleged in the complaint set forth a clear case of retaliation by Mr. Macaulay’s supervisor, Betty Tse, almost immediately after Mr. Macaulay spoke up about what he saw as fraudulent activity at ACERA,” Macaulay’s attorney, Steven Tidrick said in a statement to Pensions & Investments.

ACERA is not the only California public pension fund to wrestle with issues of governance in recent months. In May, Jeffrey Baker, an investment officer at the $8 billion San Diego County Employees Retirement Association (SDCERA), claimed in a civil service complaint that his job was being eliminated because he raised concerns over outside consultant Lee Partridge’s risk limits. In the complaint, Baker alleged that Partridge breached the limits of its role, assuming excessive risk in its emerging markets and Treasury bond portfolios—risk limits that went beyond what the board of trustees allowed.

<p>To contact the <em>aiCIO</em> editor of this story: Benjamin Ruffel at <a href='mailto:bruffel@assetinternational.com'>bruffel@assetinternational.com</a></p>