An attorney for three former Vallejo City employees, who claim they were wrongly dismissed by city administrator Greg Nyhoff, is due to file a lawsuit against the city earlier this year for more than $ 3.8 million in damages.
Joanna Altman, Assistant to the City Manager for Communications and Special Projects, Slater Matzke, Special Advisor to the City Manager, and Will Morat, Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development, worked closely with Nyhoff. They were released on April 23 this year after reporting allegations of corruption, transplantation and sexual and racial harassment to Nyhoff.
“Their only ‘criminal offense’ was to speak out against a city administrator who allowed, encouraged and directly involved in the creation and maintenance of a workplace environment that cultivated and permitted sexual harassment and bullying,” the lawyer said in the lawsuit of the plaintiff in August. “(Nyhoff) committed unethical and improper acts, including transplantation and corruption, and during an investigation they were forced to intervene with the city council members and investigator under threat of dismissal. My clients’ protected actions resulted in their resignation, followed by a series of press communications aimed at ruining their reputation. “
The impetus for the pending lawsuit is an assessment of Nyhoff’s performance ordered by the Vallejo Council in January 2019. External attorney Christopher Boucher hired independent investigator Linda Daube to monitor the situation.
In the pre-litigation lawsuit, all three former employees claim they were told they had to talk about Nyhoff during their interviews with Daube or they could lose their jobs. They also claim that they were told that anything they said would be confidential between Boucher, Daube, and assistant prosecutor Randy Risner.
“Unfortunately, it turned them back, and as soon as that investigation was completed they were closed,” said Gary Gwilliam, plaintiffs’ chief attorney, the Times-Herald.
The three far-reaching claims against the city describe several allegations against Nyhoff, most of which were relayed during her Daube interviews.
All three plaintiffs stated to “Try that harassment, discrimination and bullying of a black employee who for ([Nyhoff)arbeitetezulösen”teilgenommenzuhabenodervondiesenzuwissendievonderPersonalabteilungderStadtignoriertwurdenDerBehauptungzufolgeberichtetedieMitarbeiterindasssiewegenihrerRasseundihresGeschlechtsbelästigtwurde[Nyhoff)”thattheysaywereignoredbythecity’shumanresourcesdepartmentAccordingtotheclaimtheemployeereportedthatshewasbeingharassedbecauseofherraceandsex[Nyhoff)arbeitetezulösen“teilgenommenzuhabenodervondiesenzuwissendievonderPersonalabteilungderStadtignoriertwurdenDerBehauptungzufolgeberichtetedieMitarbeiterindasssiewegenihrerRasseundihresGeschlechtsbelästigtwurde[Nyhoff)”thattheysaywereignoredbythecity’shumanresourcesdepartmentAccordingtotheclaimtheemployeereportedthatshewasbeingharassedbecauseofherraceandsex
In all of the allegations, Nyhoff is quoted as saying during a senior leadership team meeting on diversity, “I was a racist into my thirty. I didn’t trust Mexicans or African Americans. I didn’t go to their neighborhood because I thought they were going to rob me. I didn’t talk to them, I didn’t connect with them. I was afraid of them. “
Mike Malone, African American director of the water division of Vallejo, told the Times-Herald that several department heads attended the meeting, many people of color like him, and heard what Nyhoff said and was not offended.
“As most people know, the city of Vallejo has a diverse group of department heads and many of them were at that meeting,” he said, adding that it was not interpreted negatively by them and that it was viewed as Nyhoff who his describes personal development and how much he had grown and appreciated the diversity of the staff.
In addition to allegations of discrimination, Morat claims that Nyhoff often worked against the city’s interests. He worked closely with Nyhoff on the Nimitz deal to develop Mare Island, and he claims that the city manager was working in the interests of the developers, not the city, when he refused to set the deadlines for interpretation in the project’s term sheet keep less open. In the terms, Nimitz should achieve certain benchmarks up to certain data. Morat said he wanted firm definitions of what would be completed when, but Nyhoff wanted Nimitz to be able to say that at some point they had made “substantial” progress without defining “substantial”.
According to the claim, Morat believed the term could cause legal problems if there was a disagreement between Nimitz and the city about what “substantial” actually meant. He claims he told Nyhoff that this could lead to litigation in five years, but the city lawyer replied, “I don’t care, I won’t be here in five years.”
Matzke claims that Nyhoff “did not put the good of the city above his own; used his position to help developers, such as preferring to provide favors to developers on Mare Island with whom Mr. Nyhoff had developed deep personal relationships; and threatened his subordinates when they questioned his decisions and behavior. “
The Times-Herald reached out to the city for a response through Nyhoff, but was unable to receive any comment at the time of going to press.
Speaking to ABC Channel 7 News Thursday, Christopher Boucher said that all of the staff’s names have been edited from the final report submitted to the council on Nyhoff and that he was ultimately exonerated by the council after they found no evidence of harassment or discrimination had . However, he said he would recommend Nyhoff “in good faith, independent reasons unrelated” to terminate the three.
In the same interview, Assistant Prosecutor Randy Risner said that Nyhoff had the right to fire employees “at will” and that he could only do so “when he didn’t like them and he didn’t feel they fit. ” in his team. “