DMC faces possible payment

Mark Young

Del Mar College owes a former employee over half a million dollars after losing a lawsuit over a contract dispute.

Former history professor Bruce Olson sued the college in June 2012, after Olson felt the college was breaching a contract that had come from mediation of a settlement from two previous lawsuits Olson had filed against the college.

During mediation from the first two lawsuits, Del Mar College agreed to allow Olson to participate in an early retirement program if he promised to drop the lawsuits and release Del Mar College from liability. The two previous lawsuits Olson filed were about discrimination and retaliation that he felt he had received from Del Mar College. The first two lawsuits were filed in 2011.

Olson’s previous lawsuits against Del Mar College claimed that the college violated the Equal Employment Opportunity Act based on his gender and certain activities, like his involvement in Americans with Disabilities Act accomodation requests, EEOC complaints and whistle-blower complaints. Olson also claims that the college retaliated against him for reporting activites of officials at the college.

Olson claimed that the agreement did not require him to retire before receiving $100,467 in salary plus $37,392 for accrued unused vacation and sick leave from Del Mar College; however, Del Mar College disputed that claim, which led to the most recent lawsuit.

The most recent lawsuit led to a jury finding that Del Mar College owed Olson $544,000 for damages plus $120,000 for attorney fees, totaling $664,000. The jury verdict states that both Olson and Del Mar College failed to comply with the agreement, but Del Mar College did so first.

Del Mar College will likely appeal if the judge signs off on the ruling.

“In this case, in which the College and a former employee are each claiming breach of contract, the College remains confident in its position and looks forward to pursuing its post-verdict and appellate remedies,” stated Augustin Rivera, Jr., the general counsel for Del Mar College.

Robert Heil, Olson’s attorney, said the outcome of the case was a “victory for students and faculty.”

Heil went on to say that Olson has a history of “standing up for other people’s rights” and that Olson will continue to fight for others at the college.

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