LOS ANGELES – A former job boss for the general contractor hired to do a $150 million modernization project at Beverly Hills High School has settled his lawsuit against his former employer, in which he alleged he was subjected to disparate treatment because he is a Latino and wrongfully fired in 2022 in retaliation for exposing cost overruns and safety issues.
William Lora’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against ProWest Constructors alleged wrongful termination, racial discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The 61-year-old plaintiff sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Lora’s attorneys filed court papers on Monday with Judge Maurice A. Leiter stating that the case was resolved, but no terms were divulged. In their court papers, ProWest lawyers denied any liability on the part of the company and further stated that Lora was not entitled to damages.
Lora emigrated from Colombia to the United States in 1968 and is a 40- year veteran of the construction industry. He was working for Becker Construction when he was recruited by ProWest in August 2021 to be a senior superintendent and assigned as one of several supervisors on the Beverly Hills High School project, which includes a full structural seismic retrofit of buildings complementing the original late 1920s architectural style, according to the suit filed Oct. 13.
Work at BHHS began in April 2018 and was to be completed in 30 months at a cost of $150 million, but significant delays, change orders, cost overruns and project mismanagement make it likely that it would take another five years to finish at an expense of another $130 million, the suit alleged.
Shortly after Lora began working on the project, he saw many cost overruns and change orders that he had not encountered on other construction projects, the suit states. Then, Lora allegedly noticed safety issues last December that he reported to another senior project manager assigned to oversee construction. Lora believed that one project foreman’s inexperience was causing safety issues and driving up costs, but the plaintiff’s concerns were ignored, the suit stated.
In February, he brought his concerns to the head of the project’s laborers, believing the various problems were costing taxpayers millions of dollars, the suit states. Lora also stated that Beverly Hills Unified School District supervisors would be unhappy if they knew what was happening and that if an investigation ensued, “ProWest will get in trouble,” according to the suit.
Lora ended the conversation by saying, “I do not want my name attached to this,” the suit stated.
Lora, who was fired during a March 2022 meeting, was told the company “decided to go into a different direction,” the suit states.
“Plaintiff was shocked at this news given he had never been written up, never counseled or talked to about his performance or any issues,” according to the suit.
In addition to being the only Latino superintendent on the project, Lora was treated “far less favorably” than his white co-workers, who were provided temporary living quarters near the project while the plaintiff drove two hours each way daily from his Palmdale home, the suit stated.
Lora did not feel welcome by white superintendents and project managers, was excluded from social activities and once was referred to by a slur used against Latinos, according to his suit, which further states he has become distressed and aggravated because of his firing.