RENO, Nev. — Two women whose complaints helped lead to the termination of former Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger last year have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against city.
The lawsuit filed in federal court on Aug. 1 reveal for the first time the names of the women who came forward with allegations Clinger had created a sexually hostile workplace and then retaliated against them for complaining about it.
Deanna Gescheider, the city’s former communications director, and Maureen McKissick, former assistant to the city manager, both resigned from the city late last year.
Reno City Attorney Karl Hall told the Reno Gazette-Journal (http://tinyurl.com/y85od4ds) the allegations in the lawsuit are without merit. He’s vowing to defend the city but says he will assign the case to the deputy city attorney.
The lawsuit could be costly for the city, which has already spent $225,000 investigating the complaints. Unfruitful settlement negotiations earlier this year centered on a $1.8 million demand from the women’s lawyer.
The lawsuit mostly reiterates the allegations against Clinger that came to light in two independent investigations conducted by the city, including that he rubbed Gescheider’s thigh during a work meeting and sent her sexually explicit messages using a phone app that destroyed the communication after it was sent.
The lawsuit also alleges that Clinger subjected McKissick to a hostile work environment by favoring a younger female employee and reassigning work from that woman to McKissick. The lawsuit says Clinger fostered hostility between McKissick and the other employee.
Both Gescheider and McKissick suffered “emotional distress, fear and anxiety, and loss of enjoyment of life,” as a result of Clinger’s behavior, the lawsuit argues. A third woman who complained about Clinger’s behavior did not join the federal lawsuit
Shortly after his termination, Clinger was hired by Gov. Brian Sandoval as a senior adviser. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Neither of the city’s two independent investigations found enough evidence to substantiate that Clinger touched Gescheider’s leg with sexual intent or that he made sexual advances toward her. The second investigation, however, confirmed Clinger had used the Telegraph app that destroyed his communications with Gescheider.
The second investigation also found that McKissick was “victimized by an unprofessional office environment.”
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com