Attorney Mark Mausert issued today a stinging statement against the City of Reno in its handling of a lawsuit filed by Mausert on behalf of plaintiffs alleging sexual harassment and retaliation by the city under former City Manager Andrew Clinger.
Mausert criticized City Attorney Karl Hall. City leaders, including Hall, spoke at a recent press conference. They said that sexual harassment claims are taken seriously by the city.
Mausert said the City Attorney Office’s actions in the suit suggest otherwise.
“One of the most glaring improprieties – which illustrates … Hall takes allegations of sexual harassment seriously, only in the sense (that) the complainants must be seriously punished, as quickly and forcefully as he can manage – is memorialized in the city’s first set of interrogatories…” Mausert wrote in a statement sent today to the news media.
Interrogatories are part of the discovery process in the lawsuit.
Mausert said that the city wants from one of the plaintiffs information about “all persons that you worked with whom you had a physical, romantic, and/or sexual relationship since January 1, 2000.”
Mausert called the request deplorable:
“(The plaintiff) commenced working for the City of Reno about four years ago. The City Attorney’s Office did not confine itself to asking if (the plaintiff) had a sexual relationship with any city employees (she did not). The City Attorney inquired into the private life of a Title VII complainant, as far back as 18 years…”
Mausert said that the inquiry violates federal rules of evidence and said such a request would have a chilling effect on reporting complaints.
Mayor Hillary Schieve also called the request inappropriate.
“Asking about her sexual relationships (is) highly inappropriate and irrelevant to the case,” she said.
City Tightens Up Procedures For Reporting Complaints
The City Council yesterday heard proposals to change city rules regarding reporting complaints of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation by city officials.
Councilmembers and the mayor repeatedly referenced the Clinger situation and stressed the need to improve reporting complaints against city officials.
The city is setting up a tip line (1-866-RNOTIPS) for employees to report complaints either anonymously or by name. The city’s human resources director will monitor and respond to the complaints.
“We saw where the holes were revealed to us in the past couple of years,” said City Human Resources Director Mandee Bowler. “It’s long overdue.”
The Council and Mayor Hillary Schieve agreed.
Schieve also requested tightening up protocols with the City Attorney’s office.
“I would like some policies and procedures on some of the protocols of … what’s appropriate to notify the City Council on, maybe what isn’t appropriate to notify the City Council on,” she said. “It seems to be very grey.
“I want to be notified whenever a motion is filed,” she added. “They’re representing us, and it would be no different if it were my private attorney. I’d want to know when he’s filing a motion. I think it would be good for us to have a protocol.”
Hall said he wanted to work with the council on communications.
“Guidelines would be helpful,” he said.
City Wants Communications Between Plaintiffs and News Media
Hall’s office is allegedly seeking, as part of the lawsuit, communications the plaintiffs had with the news media when allegations came to light in 2016, according to a source.
The reason we were given: To determine if there’s evidence of a conspiracy against Clinger.
“They’re out there fishing,” Mausert said. “They want all of that stuff.”
Hall did not return a call for comment by the time of publication, but he told ThisisReno last week he would not be commenting on pending litigation.
Video: City Holds Press Conference on The Latest Sexual Harassment Allegation