U.S. Capital

Yolo Food Bank Sued in California Superior Court for Wrongful Termination, Retaliation Against Whistleblowing Former Executive Director

Mar 3, 2023

Yolo County, CA (Law Firm Newswire) August 19, 2022 – – Sanjiv N. Singh, a Professional Law Corporation, with co-counsel Indrajana Law Group, a Professional Law Corporation, have filed suit in Yolo County on behalf of Michael Bisch against Yolo Food Bank (“YFB”), one of Northern California’s leading nonprofit service providers, and against certain individual members of the YFB Board of Directors.

Bisch, former Executive Director of YFB, who is credited with turning YFB around and making it one of the most successful non-profits in the region, alleges various causes of action including wrongful termination against public policy, whistleblower retaliation, and defamation.

The Bisch lawsuit alleges that YFB and certain YFB directors improperly retaliated against and terminated Bisch when Bisch began disclosing and reporting on possible government agency noncompliance with California’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Law (SB 1383) legislation with the stated purpose of increasing food security for Californians while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is alleged that YFB and certain YFB board members, in response to Bisch simply performing his job–including advancing public policy by sharing subject matter expert opinions at hearings, meetings, in official reports, and in private to government officials–retaliated against the plaintiff Bisch in bad faith, ultimately terminating plaintiff Bisch for no valid reason.

The termination was so untimely and egregious, it is alleged, that other YFB employees resigned in protest and issued Letters of No Confidence to the YFB board. During these allegedly egregious retaliatory campaigns culminating in Bisch’s termination after four years of dedicated service, it is further alleged that YFB board members advanced defamatory remarks about plaintiff Bisch to discredit him and other YFB staff.

Most troublingly, the Bisch lawsuit contains specific allegations suggesting that the retaliation against and ultimate termination of Bisch was driven by allegedly improper conflicts of interest on the YFB board, and furthermore by the YFB board allegedly succumbing to improper pressure by local government officials. Lead counsel Sanjiv Singh commented, “If true, these allegations raise important questions surrounding public trust and accountability in the non-profit space and the relationship of non-profits to local governments.”

Bisch commented, “I was fired for doing what an executive director of a non-profit is supposed to do. If we see misstatements of fact by public officials that jeopardize our mission or harm the vulnerable populations we serve, we have a duty to correct and challenge such misstatements. I lost my job for doing my duty.”

The lawsuit, entitled Michael Bisch v. Yolo Food Bank, et al., is pending case number assignment in Yolo County.

Sanjiv N. Singh, APLC, and Indrajana Law Group, APLC are full-service litigation firms located in San Mateo, California focusing on catastrophic injury, corporate malfeasance, and complex civil and commercial litigation. Mr. Singh, as reported by NPR in 2022, filed and settled the well-known Finn v. County of Los Angeles matter where a whistleblower was allegedly wrongfully terminated for reporting child safety issues to multiple government agencies.

From 2018 to 2022, Mr. Singh devoted significant resources to investigating Boeing’s 737MAX misconduct. Singh and Indrajana settled multiple wrongful death cases brought by Indonesian families against The Boeing Company in connection with the 2018 crash of Lion Air Flight JT610, and their work was featured in the critically acclaimed book Flying Blind (Doubleday 2021).

From 2020 to 2021, Mr. Singh settled the high-profile lawsuit Vargas v. Level 10 et al. brought by ironworker Jose Luis Delgado who died tragically at the Apple Campus in Sunnyvale, and settled the double child fatality of two African American children in Hickman et al. v. Los Angeles County in connection with well-publicized criticism of Los Angeles’ unstable and scandal-plagued child welfare system.