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County: Commissioner Kitty Jung Violated Conduct, Harassment Policies


Kitty Jung, Washoe County Commissioner

Adult language warning.

Washoe County today released documents relating to allegations made against Commissioner Kitty Jung. She was found to have violated the county’s discrimination, harassment, and conduct policies.

“It has been alleged that you made comments that were inappropriate and/or of a sexual nature towards an employee,” wrote Patricia Hurley, the county’s HR and labor relations director. “Based on the preponderance of the evidence, the allegation that you made comments that an employee’s superior ‘needs to go’ in violation of the Washoe County Code of Conduct is substantiated.

“The allegation that you made discriminatory comments related to gender and sexual orientation i violation of the [county policy] is substantiated.”

Two complaints against Jung were made by Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District employees.

One complained that Jung made comments about the fire chief needing “to go,” according to the complaint. “I need you to get two other commissioners to vote with me,” Jung reportedly said. “Jung continued with intagible comments about someone ‘being gay [redacted] ugly’ and [redacted] name I cannot recall, ‘can’t fuck [redacted] Continuing, Jung said, ‘I hate all fucking men and no man should be in power.'”

The employee said that the comments made them feel “extremely uncomfortable,” causing the employee to leave the office. Jung reportedly denied this version of the conversation. Other witnesses substantiated the complaint, though.

The employment law firm Littler Mendelson investigated the claims. TMFPD paid the firm $6,500 for the investigation.

“Commissioner Jung denied making any inappropriate, discriminatory comments,” the firm’s Sandra Ketner reported. However, “given the consistences in [redacted] verbal and written description of the exchange with Commissioner Jung, which was supported by the verbal and written descriptions of [redacted] statements to other witnesses as well as additional witnesses’ representations that Commissioner Jung has made comments of a similar nature in the past, ‘I conclude that Commissioner Jung violated the Washoe County Discrimination and Harassment Policy.'”

Specific conclusions were redacted from public records provided to ThisisReno, but Ketner found that Jung’s statements were “discriminatory and sexual in nature” and that she violated county policies.

A second employee also alleged “inappropriate, offensive, and discriminatory statements.”

“During the course of my employment I have been subjected to comments from Commissioner Jung that are sexual in nature and discriminatory against [redacted] gender,” according to the complaint. “I have endured these comments for too long.”

Jung also denied these allegations, Ketner said. However, “I conclude that Commissioner Jung violated [county policy] by making comments that were sexual in nature and discriminatory regarding gender and sexual orientation. I further conclude that the remainder of [redacted] complaint is unsubstantiated.”

Further: “Commissioner Jung denied saying that she hates all fucking men and no man should be in power but acknowledged that she might support such a statement in the context of a more academic discussion related to the #MeToo Movement.”

The county recommended that Jung attend harassment training and to lead by example.

UPDATE June 5, 2019: County Commissioners Vaughn Hartung, chair, and Vice-Chair Bob Lucey issued the following statement today.

In accordance with Washoe County policy, Washoe County’s Human Resources Department responded to complaints made against Commissioner Kitty Jung and engaged an independent, third-party investigator to review and thoroughly investigate the complaints.

Washoe County and the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District take harassment of any kind seriously, and are dedicated to a fair and consistent process for all parties involved. The existing policy related to Complaints of Policy Violations Against Elected Officials recognizes the autonomy of elected officials as well as the legal protections of employees, and seeks to balance these interests. When a violation of policy has occurred, appropriate and legally authorized actions to protect employees in the workplace and prevent violations of policies, are enacted.

The investigation determined that violations of Washoe County policy and Code of Conduct occurred. Specifically, Commissioner Jung was found to have made discriminatory comments about men in leadership positions, alleged sexual activities of staff, and sexual orientation of staff. Further, the investigator determined that all complaints were made in good faith.

Washoe County Human Resources has done the following:

* Directed a thorough, third-party investigation.
* Recommended specific training for Commissioner Jung; the requirements of the training were adopted by the Board of Commissioners in 2018 (Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Policy).
* Strongly suggested Commissioner Jung refrain from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
* Reminded Commissioner Jung that retaliation against an employee for filing a complaint or providing information related to a
complaint, is not tolerated.

Washoe County and the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District have acted to the fullest extent of existing statutory authority on this matter.

For additional information on these procedures, click here: Complaints of Policy Violations Against Elected Officials.

Jung did not reply to requests for comment but sent a statement to other news media.

Read the documents received from the county below.

The story was first reported by Joe Hart of KRNV News Channel 4. (ThisisReno, in accordance with established journalism ethics, strives to credit other news sources that break stories.)

This story is developing and may be updated.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.