One year after he was fired as City Manager of the City of Los Banos, Josh Pinheiro presented a predicament to his former employer.
Wednesday, the council voted 4-1 to rehire Pinheiro and grant him a significant settlement and pay raise in exchange for not filing a wrongful termination lawsuit.
The backstory: Pinheiro’s firing came on a 3-2 closed session vote not even a full year into his 4-year contract last year.
- Shortly after he was fired, Pinheiro assembled a legal team and sent a letter to the city claiming wrongful termination and retaliation. The city entered into settlement negotiations with Pinheiro to avoid a costly lawsuit.
The settlement: Per the agreement, Pinheiro will not only receive his old job back but will also take home a $1.8 million payment.
- His salary will be raised to $215,000, and any further attempts by the council to fire him will no longer be able to be done through a simple majority vote, with an unanimous 5-0 vote required from here on out.
What they’re saying: For Mayor Paul Llanez and the others who voted to reinstate Pinheiro, the cost of the settlement far outweighed the risk of a lawsuit.
- “I did a cost-benefit analysis,” Llanez said. “Time is more valuable than money, so to spend $1.8 million to get $50 million worth of things done, I’ll do it every single day of the week.”
- Council member Deborah Lewis was the lone remaining council member who voted to terminate Pinheiro last year. She stood by her previous vote as the only council member to oppose Wednesday’s settlement.
- “This, to me, is unjust for our residents, and it’s unjust for the council,” Lewis said. “In the long term, I think it sends the wrong message to our community.”