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California Governor Appointee Sued for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

The Office of Emergency Service's (Cal OES) Deputy Director, Ryan Buras, allegedly harassed Kendra Bowyer for a year in 2020. Buras oversaw recovery operations such as wildfires and other disasters, and Bowyer was a senior emergency services coordinator. Cal OES purportedly received complaints about Buras before Bowyer experienced issues.

Cal OES employees tend to work in isolated, remote areas where fires and floods occur. Buras allegedly crawled into bed with Bowyer while she was sleeping during a gathering at his home. In addition, she accused Buras of "touching her nonconsensually, attempting to get her alone in hotel rooms, grabbing her hand in public, [and] calling and texting her nearly every night and more." Bowyer stated she feared telling Buras to stop because of the negative impact on her career. Bowyer says she observed Buras cut off two co-workers who he said were "dead to [him,]" with both individuals leaving the department because of him. After trying politely to get him to stop, she rebuffed his advances. Bowyer states Buras retaliated against her, restricting her ability to access needed resources for her job. His aides accused her of falsifying her timesheets and failing to do her job. She became “totally disabled” from the stress, anxiety, and depression.

OES initiated an investigation, and Bowyer says OES told her Buras did not act inappropriately. Cal OES told the press it hired an outside law firm to investigate the harassment allegations and that it "took appropriate action" after the investigation concluded there was no policy violation. In late 2020, another Cal OES former employee alleged Buras sexually harassed at least four women. That employee said he raised the issue with senior management, and they terminated him.