Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2019

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City of Reno settling sex harassment lawsuit for $300,000

RENO — A lawyer for two women who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the city of Reno says they have agreed to settle the case for $300,000.

The settlement was reached late last week but must be approved by the city council during a public meeting Sept. 23, The Reno Gazette Journal reported.

The lawsuit filed in 2017 said former City Manager Andrew Clinger created a hostile work environment.

His former assistant, Maureen McKissick, said she suffered reprisals after she accused Clinger of having an inappropriate relationship with another female manager.

Ex-city communications director Deanna Gescheider said Clinger rubbed her thigh during a management meeting and wanted her to destroy suggestive messages he sent her.

"I think my clients were really brave," Mark Mausert, their attorney, told the Gazette Journal. "I think they did the right thing, and they stood up for a woman's right not to be sexually harassed in the workplace."

Mausert said the $300,000 settlement would be split equally among himself, Gescheider and McKissick.

"They settled at a very reasonable level," he said. "The primary goal was never the money."

A federal judge presiding over the case dismissed McKissick's complaint against the city in July, but allowed Gescheider's to move forward. Because of the settlement, Mausert said he will no longer appeal the decision to dismiss McKissick's complaint.

Both women said they were subject to retaliation after they came forward with their complaints. Both resigned from their jobs in 2016, arguing the city failed to remedy an intolerable situation in the workplace.

The city argued Gescheider and McKissick concocted their claims in an effort to force out Clinger.

The Reno City Council terminated Clinger in 2016 and gave him a $228,000 severance package. A city-funded investigation did not find enough evidence to substantiate sexual harassment occurred, but it backed claims that a hostile work environment existed under Clinger's watch.

Clinger has maintained his innocence. He is now the chief financial officer for the Nevada System of Higher Education.