Former Hollister city manager Brett Miller told BenitoLink on June 30 that the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him and the city of Hollister was dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the claimant cannot file another case based on the same claim.
A document was filed electronically May 19 to Superior Court of California, County of San Benito, by B. James Fitzpatrick, of Salinas-based Fitzpatrick & Swanston to dismiss the civil lawsuit.
Miller said his termination on March 6 had nothing to do with the lawsuit.
“I was asked to do some unethical stuff by the council, in closed session,” he said about his termination. “That’s why I can’t say anything. Being a CPA, I didn’t feel comfortable, so I walked away. It’s what I’m programmed to do.”
In regards to Miller’s firing, the interim City Manager David Mirrione reiterated “City of Hollister decided to go in a different direction with respect to the City Manager position.”
Miller said he was legally prevented from speaking about the lawsuit before, but wanted to clear the air now because after he was terminated he found it hard to find employment and associated it with BenitoLink’s coverage.
“Because of that article, I can’t get a job,” he said, adding that when he has been interviewed for a job the story invariably comes to light and he has been accused of hiding the lawsuit. He said he was hoping for a story about the dismissal because “all they do is read the headline.”
Miller said he doesn’t know why the woman, identified as Jane Doe in the article, accused him of sexual harassment.
He said when prospective employers find the lawsuit story online, along with the March 7, 2023, story about his termination, they think the two situations are connected. They’re not, he said.
He said it took three votes to oust him, which was a surprise when it happened because, he claims that Mayor Mia Casey told him he didn’t have to worry because there were three council members who would vote against terminating him.
“Obviously, somebody flipped their vote,” he said. “I was let go because I wouldn’t do something that would benefit them personally.”
However, the City Attorney Mary Lerner reported out of closed session that the vote was unanimous with Councilmember Tim Burns making the motion and Councilmember Rick Perez seconding it.
The June 28, 2022, BenitoLink story revealed the city was notified May 20 that two law firms in Salinas and Los Angeles were suing the city and Miller in civil court and asking for damages exceeding $25,000, and compensatory damages in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The city was included because the suit claimed it failed to investigate and prevent sexual discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The civil suit was filed at San Benito County Superior Court on March 14, 2022. It claimed Jane Doe had been employed by the city’s Development Services Department for 16 years and that she has been subjected to intensified sexual harassment and discrimination by Miller, who she had worked with for 10 years.
The suit claimed Miller’s “unwelcome sexual conduct steadily increased as he appeared to be more comfortable around the plaintiff. As a result, plaintiff said she became increasingly fearful of approaching Miller at the workplace, as his “suggestive stares and comments became an almost daily occurrence.”
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