By Amanda Frye and Mark Gutglueck
The so-called Me Too movement has now publicly manifested in San Bernardino County, as a former Redlands municipal employee is now gunning for Redlands City Manager Nabar Martinez, accusing him of unwanted sexual advances. Martinez’s tenure with the city appears to be hanging in the balance as a result.
The Me Too movement for the last ten months has built up momentum, excoriating men accused of sexual harassment and assault. It mushroomed out of an accusation of sexual misconduct against movie producer Harvey Weinstein first lodged in October 2017 by actress Alyssa Milano, which was echoed by other actresses. The name of the movement parallels similar efforts to generate outrage toward the alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment along with sympathy and support for their female victims that were initiated by social activist Tamara Burke a decade previously.
The consequent stampede created by the accusations resulted in a virtual landslide of men in prominent positions being forced or hounded out of the positions they held and in other cases terminated by their employers.
Martinez, who has both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration from Texas Tech University, was a budget analyst and manager of administration with the City of Dallas, Texas from 1981 until 1986, the assistant city manager of Lubbock, Texas from 1986 until 1989, the deputy city manager of San Jose in California from 1989 until 1993, the city manager of Colton from 1994 to 1996, the city manager of Bell Gardens from 1996 until 1999, the city manager of Palm Beach Gardens in Florida from 1999 until 2000, the assistant city manager in Pasadena from 2001 to 2005, the city manager of Lynwood from 2005 until 2007 and the city manager of Redlands for the past 11 years.
Martinez hired Amy Hagan, who was then known as Amy Martin, as Redlands’ human resources director and risk manager. She left the city’s employ in February of this year. There is a back story to her departure, according to her attorney, Sagar Raich.
Raich, who is not licensed to practice law in California but is the head of a law firm in Las Vegas, says that it is his client’s contention that Martinez repeatedly sexually harassed her. Some order of an agreement was made between Hagan and Martinez, according to Raich, which essentially called for Hagan to be granted a somewhat unconventional departure handshake. Hagan’s interpretation of that agreement, which was put in writing but copies of which are not yet publicly available, 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. According to Raich, that written agreement to provide Hagan with what is referred to as “a medical bridge” is contractually binding.
At some indefinite point late this spring or early summer, the city apparently reneged on providing Raich with that coverage. At the July 3 council meeting, the entire city council, accompanied by Martinez, City Attorney Dan McHugh and Redlands Director of Management Services/Finance Director Danielle Garcia, recessed into a closed session during which, according to the July 3 meeting agenda, there was a discussion of “anticipated litigation… One Case: a. Facts and circumstances: Consideration of letter from Ms. Amy Hagan regarding retirement benefits and potential for litigation.”
In that discussion, the council and the three city staff members apparently did not reach a consensus on a response to Hagan and Raich that satisfied them. The substance of the discussion is considered confidential and there has been no public disclosure of what the upshot of the closed door conference was. The Sentinel has learned, nonetheless, that McHugh, in his role as city attorney, has concluded that the agreement reached between Hagan and Martinez in January prior to her February departure is not binding. The Sentinel was unable to obtain any indication in available city records showing that the city council ratified that agreement. In any event, McHugh believes Hagan’s interpretation of the agreement that the city is obliged to provide her with a 23-year duration “bridge medical” insurance benefit to be legally insupportable.
The council again discussed the matter in a closed session on July 18, at which McHugh was directed to communicate with Hagan through Raich. A letter went out to Raich informing him that his client would need to file a lawsuit within six months of her claim to preserve her right to sue.
Hagan and Raich then formulated a counter-response, which was contained in a letter Raich sent to the city on August 7. Raich spelled out the basis for the agreement arrived at between Hagan and Martinez in January. Hagan, according to Raich was “repeatedly sexually harassed by the city manager. 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.”
Based upon what Hagan had been subjected to and her agreement to not pursue legal action against the city and release it and Martinez from liability, Raich maintains, the agreement was contractually binding and that Hagan was entitled to the extended healthcare coverage upon which the agreement pivoted. Failing to abide by the agreement by denying Hagan the promised healthcare coverage, Raich asserted, breaches that contract, giving Hagan clearance to “file a claim to address the sexual harassment and hostile work environment she experienced.” To head off a suit, Raich said the city should pay his client $469,200, an amount equal to what he said were Hagan’s legitimate “claims of healthcare coverage.” Raich gave the city 14 days to respond, threatening that if the matter were not resolved the circumstance will “result in litigation.”
City officials have not commented on the matter.
The council on Wednesday met again in closed session at 4 p.m., to, according to the meeting agenda, undertake “consideration of correspondence from Ms. Amy Hagan regarding her settlement demand and threatening litigation against the City.” McHugh indicated no reportable action was taken by the council during the meeting.