Two of Boulder City’s top staff members say the upcoming discussion about terminating their employment contracts is in retaliation for their testimony in an internal investigation of complaints filed against the mayor.
The employment contracts of City Attorney Steve Morris and City Manager Al Noyola were scheduled to be discussed at a special City Council meeting at 6 p.m. today, Aug. 6,, but Judge Jim Crockett issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday, Aug. 5, that prohibits any action on these agenda items until after a hearing Aug. 20 in Nevada’s Eighth District Court.
Attorneys for Noyola and Morris filed a complaint Monday, Aug. 3, in district Court alleging the possible firing is because they substantiated a series of allegations against Mayor Kiernan McManus, who has been accused by various city employees of “religious discrimination, harassment, bullying and creating a hostile work environment.”
Jeffrey F. Barr and Tiffany A. Kahler are representing Noyola, and Richard C. Gordon and Bradley T. Austin are representing Morris.
They write that Morris and Noyola “were also victims of a hostile work environment through similar acts of discrimination, harassment and/or bullying by the conduct of Mayor McManus and Councilmember (Tracy) Folda.”
They presented a time that showed on July 22 they were interviewed by an outside firm that was conducting the internal investigation and less than 24 hours later, on July 23, McManus sent the city clerk a memorandum asking for the special meeting. He did not give a reason for the special meeting and said “the agenda materials would be submitted the following week.”
“We are aware of the filing,” said Communications Director Lisa LaPlante. “Due to the ongoing status of this complaint, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time.”
LaPlante also said the internal complaints filed against McManus “are not a public record” currently.
“As the city attorney or city manager have filed a lawsuit against the city I am not able to comment at this time other than to say I am not aware of any testimony either of them may have given,” McManus said.
Folda said she had no comment about the complaint.
In their complaint, Morris and Noyola also claim their constitutional rights were violated as well as Nevada’s open meeting law when the notification about tonight’s meeting was given to them.
Both were sent a letter by Folda “on or about July 28.” Additionally, they were formally served notices of the special meeting July 28.
After the letters were sent to Morris and Noyola, the city published the agenda for the special meeting July 30. McManus called for the meeting and Folda is asking council members to consider “terminating” the employment contracts for Morris and Noyola.
According to NRS 241.033(1), a public body is prohibited from holding a meeting to consider the character, misconduct or competence of a public official unless the public body first gives notice to the person.
In the complaint, attorneys for Noyola and Morris write that the letters of notice were from “one rogue councilmember and not the entire City Council.” It was never “ratified” by council.
A preliminary hearing about the complaint is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 20 in District Court.
LaPlante said city’s defense attorney in this matter would be provided from POOL/PACT.
Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at email@example.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.