Details Emerge As Lawsuit Against City Of Reno Continues

Jan 31, 2019

The lawsuit against the City of Reno for the alleged harassment and retaliation against two former employees is continuing, and new revelations are still emerging. Bob Conrad of ThisisReno has been following this story and gave an update to KUNR News Director Michelle Billman.

The court filing shows dozens of pages of text messages by former City Manager Andrew Clinger, City Clerk Ashley Turney, and former Assistant City Manager Kate Thomas that criticize and make light of City Council members, city employees, the mayor, and people speaking during public comment at council meetings.

Documents show the text messages between Thomas and Clinger calling employees “crazy” and “bitches”.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Mark Mausert, said that the texts in 2015 and 2016 detail a highly sexualized environment in which Clinger played favorites and denigrated other high-level employees.

Mausert filed the suit on behalf of plaintiffs Deanna Gescheider and Maureen McKissick, former city employees who worked under Clinger.

Mausert said that the city should have been aware of the culture at the time since a former city employee, Jean Atkinson, working for the city’s civil service commission, reported to the city “over 10 months prior to the first complaint of sexual harassment” that there were problems with favoritism in the city manager’s office.

“That picture showed that there was a small group of women who were getting benefit through Mr. Clinger’s decisions that were not equitably distributed in the same manner to other members of that group, and that raised a very real concern,” Atkinson reportedly testified during deposition.

Former finance director Robert Chisel, now with RSCVA, reportedly also had concerns at the time, Mausert said. “You had to be one of the fun bunch to get along at the city manager’s office,” Chisel said.

City Responds

City officials have since said that much of the behavior outlined in the court documents has been curtailed with new training and a policy that discourages discourteous treatment of the public or other employees.

“New rules and procedures regarding communication devices and city business were implemented earlier this year,” said city spokesperson Jon Humbert. “Any work product or work-related communication on private devices must be forwarded to city servers within 20 days of creation. Using personal devices for any City-related content is prohibited by our policy.”

Humbert added that email and texts “should only relate to city work. We do have a policy that prohibits discourteous treatment of the public or other employees.

“It is critical that the City be progressive about the balance between personal interaction and public work. We are all human at the City of Reno. Laws change. Mistakes will happen. But we feel that we have the policies–and people–in place to make the City more transparent and accountable than ever before.”

Clinger has denied wrongdoing in the suit and called the allegations frivolous.

Read the rest of this story at ThisisReno.