County planning director Oviatt sued by employee over alleged abusive behavior


Kern County’s planning director Lorelei Oviatt faces legal action from one of her own employees.

Shawn Beyeler has filed a claim against Oviatt and the county, charging Oviatt with bullying and abusive behavior toward him and other staff members over a number of years.

The claim was filed with the county counsel’s office and the Civil Service Commission.

Beyeler alleges Oviatt manages her department through fear and intimidation and the Planning Department, he claims, has suffered because of it.

Beyeler claims the abuse was so prevalent, he had to seek medical attention from his family’s physician.

He claims several members of the planning staff have left the department because of workplace harassment by Oviatt, creating a staffing shortage.

Beyeler is asking Oviatt to resign or be removed from office by the Board of Supervisors.

Oviatt has been planning director for the County of Kern since 2010 and has worked in the department for 23 years.

The county’s human resources department has been investigating Beyeler’s claim and a report is pending.

Lorelei Oviatt did not respond Thursday to 17 News requests for comment.

Beyeler declined to comment, except to say he filed the claim to protect his fellow employees at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

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