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Suit Against TMCC, Chancellor Reilly Dismissed

By Carla O'Day

Image: Carla O’Day

A lawsuit brought by a professor seeking reinstatement to his chairmanship position, who alleged Chancellor Thom Reilly ignored Truckee Meadows Community College’s (TMCC) collective bargaining agreement, has been dismissed.

Both the Nevada System of Higher Education and TMCC humanities professor Thomas Cardoza declined further comment. Attorneys for both parties signed the dismissal Aug. 31.

Cardoza had been a department chair at TMCC, which netted him an additional 20 percent compensation with a $5,000 stipend, equating to about $20,000 annually. His chairmanship was removed by TMCC President Karin Hilgersom in August 2017 after a letter of reprimand a month prior. Cardoza’s colleagues re-elected him for a second 3-year term as department chairman in July 2017.

The reason for the reprimand wasn’t mentioned in the suit filed in Second Judicial Court, although Reilly ordered it removed from Cardoza’s file. Cardoza remains a faculty member at TMCC.

In February, Cardoza sought reinstatement to his chairmanship position with back-pay and benefits retroactive to Aug. 25, 2017, along with attorney fees.

Dr. Thom Reilly, Nevada System of Higher Education chancellor. Image: NSHE.

According to the suit, Cardoza filed a grievance with TMCC’s human resource office in September 2017 protesting the actions of Hilgersom and then-dean Jill Channing, alleging Channing retaliated against him in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. In October, Cardoza filed a separate grievance with human resources alleging violation of a section in the bargaining agreement.

“Specifically, I am troubled that your removal was linked to the letter of reprimand without reference to any other facts demonstrating reasons for your removal,” Reilly wrote in a Nov. 8, 2017 letter to Cardoza. “Nonetheless, I strongly believe that deans and presidents should have discretion in the appointment and removal of department chairs and I believe your removal was generally consistent with the authority vested to the president…”

Strong beliefs and discretion aren’t stated in the collective bargaining agreement as reasons to remove a department chair. Grounds for removal would be failing to perform duties or being disciplined for reasons set forth in the NSHE Code or TMCC bylaws, the suit said, citing bargaining agreement language.

Reilly, through TMCC’s general counsel, cited procedural and technical intricacies when asking the court to dismiss the case in June.


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