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Former Union Executive Director Joe Kahraman Vindicated by Judgment Against EAA: Union Admits Liability for Its Retaliation for Whistleblowing, Defamation, Malicious Prosecution, Breach of Contract and IIED

Joe Kahraman recently obtained a judgment of $165,200 against the Engineers and Architects Association (EAA), Zachary De Corse and former EAA Board-members Larry Rolon and Sharon Johnson. Mr. Kahraman is represented by Hadsell Stormer Richardson & Renick LLP.

He served as Executive Director of the EAA, a union representing over 5,000 employees of the City of Los Angeles, from 2010 through 2011.

In 2011, Mr. Kahraman sought to defend his union against a hostile merger attempted by a larger union, the American Federation of Teachers. Mr. Kahraman's research showed that the merger - which was being pushed through without member participation - would leave the union bankrupt. But some of the EAA Board members supported the merger. Then-Board President Larry Rolon and then-Board member Sharon Johnson attempted to terminate Mr. Kahraman's employment contract.

The lawsuit alleged that Mr. Rolon also fabricated a story that Mr. Kahraman had stolen a laptop computer, despite the fact that Mr. Kahraman had every right to keep his laptop computer based on his contract with EAA. But due to Mr. Rolon's false statements, Mr. Kahraman and his wife Ani, a union volunteer, were arrested on May 4, 2011.

Shortly after the arrest, the District Attorney declined to press charges, citing a lack of evidence that any crime was committed.

The Kahramans then initiated a civil suit against the EAA and some of its former leaders, alleging defamation, malicious prosecution, retaliation for whistleblowing, breach of contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The EAA, Larry Rolon, Sharon Johnson and Zachary De Corse (for defamation only) conceded liability and damages, and a judgment for $165,200 in favor of Joe Kahraman was entered on December 30, 2013. Ani Kahraman's case continued in litigation after EAA's admission of liability and damages with respect to Joe Kahraman.

Mr. Kahraman stated: "I am glad to finally clear my name, after what has been a difficult two years." Mr. Kahraman continued: "I have spent the better part of the last two decades serving the labor movement. Building strong, vibrant, democratic unions that put the members first is my life's work."

This is one of the few cases to result in a judgment against a union for malicious prosecution and retaliation for whistleblowing.

To see the lawsuit, please click here.

To see the judgment, please click here.

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