Not only is it incredibly difficult to fire someone from the City of Albuquerque, but the failure to do so in at least one case cost taxpayers big time.
That’s the news from our friends at the ABQ Free Press which outlined the story of Mark A. Shepherd and how much the city settled because of his egregious behavior to at least one female city employee.
“Shepherd frequently and repeatedly made hand gestures mimicking masturbation while talking on the phone,” according to the lawsuit. “These gestures were directed at the attention of Parada.”
“In 2014,” the lawsuit continued, “Parada was filing something away in a filing cabinet. While her back was turned, Shepherd sneaked up behind her. When Parada turned around, Shepherd kissed her on the lips, against Parada’s will.”
His conduct—much of which was confirmed by an internal city investigation—ended up with a $185,000 settlement. That money will come from the public funds in the city coffers.
As for Shepherd himself, he faced minimal punishment, as a hearing officer said the allegations did not rise to the level of violating the city’s sexual harassment policy.
Shepherd kept his job. He was given just a three day suspension—and that suspension was held in abeyance.
He continues to work in the Municipal Development Department.
Michael Riordan, the Chief Operating Officer for the city, later responded to the ABQ Free Press.
“The City of Albuquerque takes allegations of misconduct in the workplace very seriously. While the allegations were very troubling, after a thorough investigation, the City did not believe it would sustain a termination or demotion through our personnel board and employee appeal process,” he said. “However, the City strives for the highest level of professional conduct by employees and required Mr. Shepherd to attend sensitivity training and all employees under Mr. Shepherd’s supervision periodically met with the City’s Human Right’s office over a period of time to monitor whether any issues remained.”
Riordan also noted that the settlement did not include admission of fault.