For more than twenty-five years Dolores Sanchez served as an award-winning advocate for California’s educators.
Then Dolores got sick.
In 1998 & 1999, Dolores led the Sacramento team that secured passage of the largest pension benefits expansion for California Federation of Teachers (CFT) members in U.S. history— a feat for which she won accolades from American Federation of Teachers and CFT. Her success was based on long standing relationships with the Governor’s Office and members of the State Senate and Assembly and a unique insight into the often-complicated machinations of Sacramento politics.
Dolores Sanchez is also a pioneer. She was the first person of color to be hired to CFT’s professional staff and one of the first Latinas to hold a powerful position in Sacramento’s lobbying corp.
About two years ago, Dolores was diagnosed with severe clinical depression—a serious mental health disorder. On doctor’s orders, she was required to take time off. While on medical leave CFT management subjected Dolores to numerous indignities, including CFT management ordering her office emptied and CFT staff to rummage through her belongings and discard what they deemed appropriate. This was all done without her consent.
“My entire life has been spent as an advocate for people. Now, it’s important to advocate for the silent many who suffer from mental illness issues—I see doing so as nothing less than a civil rights issue.”— Dolores Sanchez
WHAT HAPPENED TO DOLORES NEXT IS UNSPEAKABLE
Dolores fought hard to get better and to return to work. She did it! In March of 2014, Dolores’ doctor determined she could return to work on a temporarily modified schedule. Upon her return, CFT management verbally abused her. The next day, she was fired without cause. Since then Dolores has been continually bullied and treated disrespectfully by CFT management. Dolores was even banned, at the behest of CFT management, by security at a CFT event from distributing green ribbons in support of mental health awareness.
DOLORES HAS LOST THE SECURITY SHE EARNED
As a 49-year old woman Dolores was still eleven years from receiving her minimum pension benefits. This is more than ironic for the same person who shepherded historical pension gains for CFT members.
DOLORES’ LEGAL RIGHTS & HUMAN DIGNITY HAVE BEEN VIOLATED—ALL BECAUSE SHE SUFFERED FROM MENTAL ILLNESS
CFT management’s actions illegally violated the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the federal Americans with Disability Act. CFT management’s actions also seriously violated the union values for which they have a moral and professional obligation to represent.