Katy City Council votes to accept settlement with former emergency management coordinator

Katy City Council voted to authorize the mayor to accept a settlement offer with a former city employee.

Katy City Council voted to authorize the mayor to accept a settlement offer with a former city employee.

In a 4-1 vote, Katy City Council approved a motion Oct. 14 to authorize the mayor to accept a settlement offer with an added provision related to a lawsuit against the city by a former employee.

No details about the settlement agreement were discussed at council, and Mayor Bill Hastings declined to comment. Council Member Frank O. Carroll III, who voted against the motion, said council members cannot discuss the settlement until it has been signed by both parties.

“I thought it was not the best deal, and so that’s why I voted against it,” Carroll said.

Former city Emergency Management Coordinator Maria Galvez filed a lawsuit against the city of Katy and two local officials—former Mayor Chuck Brawner and Katy Fire Department Chief Russell Wilson—on Sept. 24, 2018, according to the original plaintiff petition filed with the 189th District Court of Harris County.

Galvez alleged the defendants invaded her privacy by reading her personal messages on Facebook Messenger while she was on paid administrative leave, according to the original petition. She sought monetary relief between $200,000 to $1 million, according to the petition.

The city filed a motion to dismiss and filed a response generally denying the allegations in October 2018, according to court documents. The lawsuit was removed from the district court and refiled to the federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division in November 2018.

Lawsuit details

According to the original petition, Galvez was appointed as the city of Katy emergency management coordinator in 2014. She filed a complaint against Wilson with the city human resources department Sept. 11, 2017, per the petition.

About fourth months later, Brawner placed her on paid administrative leave, alleging she had committed timesheet fraud during Hurricane Harvey, according to the original petition.

In March 2018, Galvez was contacted by Brawner and informed of new allegations against her, according to the petition. These new allegations included violating instructions that asked her not to communicate with city employees about an investigation into the original allegations that put her on administrative leave, per the petition.

“These new allegations were made after Fire Chief Russell Wilson invaded Ms. Galvez’s privacy by accessing personal, confidential messages exchanged via Ms. Galvez’s Facebook messenger,” according to the petition.

These messages discussed her employment, personal relationships and health matters with family and friends, per the petition. It added the alleged privacy invasion caused Galvez to be "severely offended, humiliated and outraged."

According to Galvez’s LinkedIn profile, March 2018 was her last month as the city’s emergency management coordinator.


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