Ricardo Noguera, former director of community and economic development at the City of Tacoma, has released a response alleging wrongful termination after he was accused of unprofessional behavior and dismissed earlier this month.
The City’s investigation was launched after complaints were made alleging a hostile work environment. According to a city report, Noguera “created an environment that has left his female staff feeling demeaned, demoralized and unwelcomed.” Notes from the probe revealed staff accused Noguera of gender discriminiation and making inappropriate comments on womens’ looks.
A statement from Noguera’s legal counsel, Kristi Favard, however, asserts that the City cleared Noguera of sexual harassment and discrimination, resulting in a finding of “reasonable cause” relating only to the hostile work environment allegation.
“Hostile work environment is often misunderstood as any hostility or contention between co-workers, but that is not the legal standard,” says the statement. “The facts here do not support any finding of a hostile work environment. Nevertheless, the City terminated Mr. Noguera from his Director position. He intends to sue the City for wrongful termination based on discrimination, as he contends that he, and other people of color, have been treated differently than non-minorities in similar situations and positions, which demonstrates a pattern of bias and discrimination.”
The statement goes on to link bias against minority officials in Tacoma to the arrival of City Manager Elizabeth Pauli, and asserts that the City’s offer of a different, non-supervisory position in the same department is contradictory to the belief that Noguera created a hostile work environment.