Hutto responds to 'gender harassment' allegations against city manager

Jones addressed Hutto about the allegations at a press conference March 16.

Jones addressed Hutto about the allegations at a press conference March 16.

The City of Hutto called a press conference tonight to respond to discrimination allegations filed today against City Manger Odis Jones.

 

Hutto City Manager Odis Jones Hutto City Manager Odis Jones[/caption]

Jones, who was hired in mid-November, has been at the helm of city government while Hutto executed several personnel changes.

Charges were filed by the lawfirm of DuBois, Bryant and Campbell on behalf of three female employees who were terminated by Jones.

The former employees included in the allegations are Wallis Meshier, who served as the city's senior planner, Melanie Melancon, who served as the city's assistant city manager, and Amy McGlothlin, who served as the city's human resources director.

On Thursday, Millicent Lundburg, the attorney representing the three women, filed an unverified Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge of discrimination and a charge with the Texas Workforce Commission on behalf of each of her clients. EEOC and TWC must first investigate the charges before a formal lawsuit can be filed, according to Lundburg.

The charges are written as a summary of the events without going too specifically into details. Lundburg did describe the situation as "gender harassment," claiming that two of her clients were terminated for being involved in the investigation of harassment charges and one was terminated because she reported harassment to her superior.

“The city has been made aware of allegations, and we, the City Council, stand with the City Manager; the decisions he has made were appropriate, just and in the best interests of the City,” Hutto Mayor Doug Gaul said in a statement.

Lundburg said during the public comment portion of tonight's Hutto City Council meeting that she requested the city meet with her lawfirm for a settlement agreement, but the city did not agree to the request.

"Litigation is incredibly emotional," Lundburg said. "Especially employment litigation, I compare it to divorce. Everyone knows that in divorce you put the kids first. And here, you put the city of Hutto first."

According to Lundburg, three separate lawsuits would be filed should the charges reach that level. The attorney retained by the city said Hutto would defend its side of the story in court.

At the Hutto press conference, Jones said the employees were terminated because they lacked the skillsets to continue advancing the city.

"I made the decisions to terminate those employees because they did not fit with the direction of the City Council," Jones said. "We needed skill sets in this city that allow for us to both grow as a city from a business-friendly perspective but also to ensure that we can manage our financial affairs in a way that we are transparent to the public."

In the city's press conference, Gaul said he stood firmly behind the personnel decisions that Jones executed during his tenure as city manager.

City Council Member Bettina Jordan announced on her Facebook page that she had resigned from council prior to Thursday's meeting. The city's attorney said they would look into replacing her at the council's next meeting, to take place the first Thursday of April, April 6.

"I no longer have faith and trust in either the current Council or senior City leadership," Jordan wrote. "I refuse to be associated with the tone and environment being perpetuated at City Hall."

Jordan was the only City Council member in November to vote against Jones to become city manager.

Bettina Jordan's online statement announcing her resignation March 16 from Hutto City Council. Bettina Jordan's online statement announcing her resignation March 16 from Hutto City Council.[/caption]


MOST RECENT

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD superintendent lays out barriers to receiving emergency funding

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said while it seems that the district has received "millions and millions," it has been able to use a fraction of granted emergency funds.

The Austin metropolitan statistical area surpasses COVID-19 pandemic job losses. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin regains all pandemic job loss, San Antonio nearly misses top 10 best performing metros in the country

The Austin and San Antonio metropolitan statistical areas continue their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A volunteer unloads food from a truck during the Central Texas Food Bank's April 4 event to feed families in need at Nelson Field in Austin. (Courtesy Central Texas Food Bank)
Central Texas Food Bank delivering boxes of food directly to homes through 2021

Some families will be eligible to have boxes with food for 25 meals delivered by Amazon.

Williamson County Commissioner Court members joined Taylor City Council members for a joint meeting to pass economic development agreements. (Joe Warner/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County, city of Taylor sign economic agreements, await Samsung commitment

$17B plant would employ 1,800 full-time Samsung employees, thousands of contractors

Rethink35 co-founder Adam Greenfield speaks during a news conference Sept. 1. Event organizers set up a pink line to represent how wide TxDOT's I-35 expansion would extend. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Coalition of Austin council members, transportation advocates, neighborhood businesses unite against TxDOT’s I-35 plan

The coalition said that TxDOT needs to factor in climate change, connectivity between East and West Austin, and impacts on local businesses to its proposal.

Children arrive for the first day of school Aug. 17 at O Henry Middle School in Austin, where the public school district mandated mask wearing against Gov. Greg Abbott's order. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Education Agency allows mask mandates after federal lawsuit

The Texas Education Agency, facing a federal discrimination lawsuit, will not enforce Gov. Greg Abbott's masking order.

Waterloo Park will reopen to the public Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. (Courtesy/Buie & Co.)
Waterloo Park reopening event postponed due to COVID-19 Stage 5 risk

The Waterloo Park reopening ceremony, originally planned to feature a jazz ensemble, folkorico dance performances and a ribbon cutting ceremony, is cancelled due to the Stage 5 COVID-19 risk.

The largest metro areas across Texas drove population growth across the state, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Newly released U.S. Census data shows metropolitan areas drove Texas population growth

The gap between Texas’ Hispanic population and non-Hispanic white alone population is shrinking.

All Austin public school students, including those learning virtually, will have access to free lunches through June 2022. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD giving free lunch, breakfast to all students for 2021-22 school year

All students, including those attending school virtually, will have access to free meals through the federally funded program.

Photo of a hospital corridor
Region including Travis, Williamson, Hays counties down to 2 staffed ICU beds

Austin Public Health representatives say it is staffing, not space, that currently presents the greatest limitation.