Officials: Hutto city manager cleared of harassment allegations

4:59 p.m Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 Politics
Hutto City Manager Odis Jones at a news conference

The Hutto city manager and the city have been cleared of allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment, the city’s lawyer, Michael Shaunessy, said Thursday.

The Texas Workforce Commission’s office of civil rights and discrimination has dismissed the allegations, Shaunessy said. The dismissal stated the agency “was unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes any violations of the statutes,” he said in a news release.

The commission on Thursday said it could not confirm the ruling or even the existence of such a complaint because all information provided to it through a civil rights complaint is confidential, agency spokeswoman Lisa Givens said.

Claims of discrimination and harassment were made against Hutto City Manager Odis Jones in March after he fired three female city employees, saying they did not have the right skills for their jobs.

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Jones said in the release Thursday that “the most important thing is the truth prevailed and we can remain focused on growing and enhancing the local economy here in Hutto.”

The attorney representing the three fired employees, Millicent Lundburg, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

She said in March that the three women did have the right skills for their jobs. One of the employees who was fired had made a complaint about harassment, Lundburg said.

Lundburg also said in March that the other two employees were fired after they told the mayor about a sexual harassment and discrimination complaint against Jones.

The employees who were fired were the city’s former human resources director, Amy McGlothlin; the former assistant city manager, Melanie Melancon; and a former senior planner for Hutto, Wallis Meshier.

Mayor Doug Gaul stated in the release issued Thursday that the city “has always remained confident in the city manager.”

“He is doing the job we hired him to do,” Gaul said, “and since his arrival economic development in Hutto has boomed with development taking place on all fronts.”

A confidential report from a lawyer last year said Jones probably engaged in unlawful sexual harassment.

The report, by Austin attorney Judy Osborn, was submitted anonymously to the American-Statesman in April. It said Jones violated Hutto’s policy on “sexual and other unlawful harassment.” “The policy prohibits ‘sexual jokes and innuendo’ and ‘touching,’” the report by the attorney said.

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The Hutto City Council in April said Osborn’s initial administrative investigation was later completed by the law firm McGinnis Lochridge and that the city manager’s decisions were found to be just and proper, and that Jones did nothing wrong, according to a release.

The city said in April that it was hiring an outside agency to investigate the leaking of the document.

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