By Amanda Frye and Mark Gutglueck
Word late today is that the Redlands City Council has officially suspended City Manager Nabar Martinez, putting him on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a now intensified ongoing investigation into accusations that he had engaged in inappropriate behavior involving former Redlands Human Resources Director/Risk Manager Amy Martin.
Beginning at 5 p.m. today, the Redlands City Council adjourned into a special meeting at which three items were slated for discussion. The agenda for that meeting specified “1. Conference with legal counsel: Existing litigation – Government Code §54956.9(d)(1) (Management Services/Finance Director) One case: Notice of complaint of discrimination filed by Ms. Amy Hagan, Nevada Equal Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Agencies Charge No: 480-2018-04689
“2. Conference with legal counsel: Anticipated litigation – Government Code §54956.9(d)(2)(e)(3) (Management Services/Finance Director Garcia) One case: Facts and circumstances: Consideration of discussion of threatened litigation against the city for medical insurance claim, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment claims by Ms. Amy Hagan
“3. Public employee performance evaluation associated with the two specific above-referenced closed session matters- Government Code §54957 (Mayor Foster) a. City manager.”
Some three hours later, the council emerged from that closed session discussion, at which point Redlands City Attorney Dan McHugh announced that Martinez had been placed on paid administrative leave.
Martin is now known as Amy Hagan. Previously, she alleged Martinez, who had hired her under the name of Amy Martin to serve in the capacity of human resources director and risk manager, subjected her to a hostile work environment.
Hagan is represented by Las Vegas-based attorney Sagar Raich. Raich, who is not licensed to practice law in California, has in part utilized the forum of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to proceed against both Martinez and the City of Redlands. It is Raich’s contention that Martinez repeatedly sexually harassed his client. “These incidents of harassment included extremely offensive insults, being subjected to sexual conversations, being contacted at night and on the weekends to discuss personal and sexual matters, and being forced to help the city manager with his online dating profiles,” according to Raich.
Martin left the city’s employ in February of this year. Martin, in some measure based upon her expertise and sophistication as a human resources and risk management professional, negotiated with Martinez what has been described as a somewhat unconventional departure handshake, which Raich maintains is binding. Hagan’s interpretation of that agreement, which was put in writing but copies of which have yet to be publicly released, memorialized Hagan’s agreement to not sue the city or seek any further redress beyond being provided with full health benefits until she eclipses the age of eligibility for retirement medical coverage, some 23 years from now in 2041.
At some indefinite point late this spring or early summer, City Attorney McHugh, Redlands Director of Management Services/Finance Director Danielle Garcia and the city council became aware of the full implication of the commitment Martinez had made to Martin, who by then had moved to Nevada and was legally identified as Amy Hagan. Based upon the failure of both Martinez and Martin/Hagan to have Martin’s exit settlement ratified through consideration by, and a vote of, the city council, the settlement involving the 23 years of medical coverage was deemed by the city null and void.
As of July, it was Raich and Hagan’s position that the city’s failure to honor the exit agreement was a breach of contract. Previous closed session discussions of the matter failed to achieve a resolution of the differences between the city and Hagan.
Meanwhile, the substance of Hagan’s accusations regarding Martinez’s comportment have been percolating, and the city has undertaken an investigation to determine if Hagan’s version of events could be controverted. The outcome of today’s closed session signals that the city council considers itself to be in a weak bargaining position, essentially because the preliminary findings of the investigation hold that there is at least some substance to Hagan’s allegations.
In papers filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on September 17, Hagan maintains the city failed to stop Martinez’s sexual harrassment of her. That claim implies that she had made some order of a report with regard to Martinez’s behavior prior to her exit from the city.
By Amanda Frye and Mark Gutglueck