This story was updated Feb. 1 at 10:25 a.m. to include a comment from the California Military Department.

A one-star general who was fired from the California National Guard last year has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former commander, alleging he was ousted for submitting a complaint about a pattern of antisemitism.

The removed Guard leader, retired Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Magram, filed the lawsuit Jan. 24 against the adjutant general of California, Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, and Gov. Gavin Newsom in a Los Angeles court.

Magram seeks at least $1.6 million in compensatory damages for back pay and other lost employment benefits.

Magram alleges that, over a two-year period, Beevers created a hostile work environment through several antisemitic statements and ultimately pushed for his removal “because of Magram’s Jewish heritage and in retaliation for Magram’s complaints.”

The California Military Department denied the allegations in a statement emailed to Military Times on Tuesday, calling Magram’s complaint a “retaliatory and baseless lawsuit.”

“All actions were taken based on independent investigations by the U.S. Air Force and the Military Department Inspector General,” the California Military Department said of Magram’s firing. “We look forward to defending our actions to hold a senior leader accountable for his misconduct.”

Magram — who began his career with the California Air National Guard in 1985 — rose through the ranks to become one of the California Guard’s most senior full-time generals. As an assistant adjutant general, Magram was responsible for the administration and support of more than 4,900 California airmen who serve in the nation’s second-largest air guard, according to the legal complaint.

The Los Angeles Times reported last year that an internal disciplinary board removed Magram after it found he “inappropriately used military personnel for personal tasks, had a subordinate complete part of his cybersecurity training and otherwise engaged in conduct that seeded distrust in the ranks.”

His removal followed an Air Force inspector general investigation into “multiple instances of misconduct involving ethical violations and maltreatment of subordinates,” the California Military Department said.

The Air Force formally censured Magram in an October 2021 letter of admonishment, opening the door to his removal, the department said. A three-person independent panel unanimously agreed to move Magram to the Air Force retired reserve. Newsom’s office and Beevers issued directives to dismiss the one-star as well, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He became the fifth general officer to resign, retire or be fired from the scandal-plagued California National Guard between 2019 and 2023.

Magram argues his departure has another explanation.

“MG Beevers mounted an unprecedented defamatory campaign against me, and it was supported by the Governor,” Magram said in a press release Wednesday. “I want to make sure this never happens again.”

Magram alleges Beevers made several antisemitic comments in front of him between 2020 and 2022, which the one-star reported to the governor’s office on six occasions. No disciplinary action was taken, the plaintiff said.

Magram also alleges in the legal complaint, obtained by Military Times on Tuesday, that Beevers interfered with the Disciplinary Action Board complaint because of the brigadier general’s Jewish heritage, and in retaliation for the complaints against Beevers that Magram sent to the California inspector general and the governor.

The ousted officer also contests the relevance of stories used to remove him, including the allegation that he directed a subordinate to take his mother to Whole Foods in 2013. Magram argues the event was taken out of context and alleges it was a part of a deliberate campaign to discredit him and push him out of the military.

Magram previously served as the chief of staff of the California Air National Guard from April to October 2019. He began his career as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in the HH-60G Pave Hawk before working as the vice commander and a maintenance group commander in the 129th Rescue Wing and holding multiple state-level counterdrug and emergency response roles.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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