City Harassment Case Advances After Ruling Today

This story is developing and may be updated.

Federal Judge Miranda Du today ruled partially in favor of the City of Reno in its fight against two former employees who alleged a sexually hostile work environment while working at the city.

The plaintiff’s, former city Communications Director Deanna Gescheider and former Assistant to the City Manager, Maureen McKissick, said that former City Manager Andrew Clinger created a sexually hostile work environment in 2016.

“Plaintiffs further argue that they faced various forms of retaliatory hostility at the City and that the working conditions were intolerable so as to cause them to constructively discharge from their employment with the City,” Du wrote. “Plaintiffs in sum argue that Clinger gave unfair promotions and pay raises to three female subordinates that he allegedly found attractive…

Du said that McKissick’s case, however, did not meet federal standards for a hostile work environment claim.

“In short, Plaintiffs present no evidence connecting any purported sexual relationship or sexual favoritism from Clinger to (former Assistant City Manager Kate Thomas) as the reason for Kate’s hostility toward McKissick,” Du added.


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City Attorney Karl Hall at City Hall.
City Attorney Karl Hall. Image: Bob Conrad.

Because of this, Du rejected McKissick’s claim, finding in favor of the city. Gescheider’s case, however, will proceed.

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“A reasonable jury could conclude that Clinger’s touching of Gescheider was sexual in nature or was made because of her gender, considering the totality of the circumstances in the workplace and Gescheider’s relationship with Clinger,” Du determined. “As reasonable jury could find that the work environment was subjectively and objectively abusive, based on sex, considering the totality of the circumstances.”

However, Du continued, “the evidence suggests that as to Gescheider the conduct of others sans Clinger amounted to petty slights and the other forms of alleged retaliation did not amount to material adverse action…”

Du, therefore, granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the city for everything except Gescheider’s sexually hostile work environment claim.

“We’re going to appeal Maureen’s case, and we’re going to trial on Gescheider’s case,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Mark Mausert, told ThisisReno today.

Reno City Attorney Karl Hall did not return a request for comment by the time of publication.

Read Judge Du’s Order

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Bob Conrad
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Bob Conrad is co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company. He also works part time for the University of Nevada, Reno.