Wayne McDonald, fired employee accused of sex harassment, sues Michael Hancock, Denver
McDonald was informed about the allegations of sexual harassment, based on the recorded November phone conversation, in May, when city officials told him that he was suspended pending the outcome of an investigation and hearing. But later that month, he was told he could resign his job or he would be fired because of the allegations, according to the lawsuit.
Sulton says McDonald asked for an opportunity for a hearing to defend himself, but City Attorney Doug Friednash simply said he was fired, without a hearing or even an official termination letter from the city.
Sam Levin Michael Hancock first responding to reporters in June about McDonald's firing.
In addition to denying allegations of harassment and arguing that McDonald did not have any opportunity to defend himself, the lawsuit also goes after the mayor and his press secretary for releasing information about his firing and the sexual harassment claims to the media the following month.
Through the lawsuit, McDonald is officially requesting a jury trial on the various claims in the case. That process, his attorney says, could take more than a year.
Sulton says McDonald doesn't want his job back, but he wants his name cleared, so he can find other employment.
"The primary purpose of the litigation is to clear his name," she says, adding, "It's still unknown to me why the mayor would do this -- that in any inquiries into any city employees...you would just...release [information] about an unsubstantiated allegation."
She says, "Nobody should get fired based on an allegation of wrongdoing."
The lawsuit calls for the defendants to jointly pay "all damages McDonald sustained as a result of Defendants' illegal conduct, including but not limited to compensatory damages for lost wages and benefits, damages to his reputation, anxiety, emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, and mental anguish, plus pre- and post-judgment interest and other statutory penalties."
Sulton says he wants to move on from the situation but can't get a job.
Given that he now knows this is how the mayor responds to unsubstantiated allegations placed against a city employee, she adds, "It's not where he would want to return to work."
We've reached out to Miller and will update this post when and if we receive a response. As for Friednash, he has previously told us that McDonald's allegations have no merit, that he was an employee-at-will and that the city's actions were reasonable and appropriate. Today, he says he has not seen the lawsuit, and therefore cannot comment at this time.
Continue for excerpts from the lawsuit, including a text message Hancock sent to McDonald.