Modesto could pay its longtime solid waste manager more than $236,000 through the end of 2018 to do no work.
This arrangement is part of a Nov. 15 settlement agreement between the city and Jocelyn Reed. It calls for Reed to be on administrative leave while she collects her $113,587 annual salary through Dec. 31, 2018. She also will receive 2 percent pay raises in June 2017 and June 2018.
But the paychecks stop if the 64-year-old Reed gets a job with another government agency. At The Bee’s request, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System is looking into how the additional paid administrative leave will affect Reed’s pension.
Modesto agreed not to release its misconduct investigations of Reed unless required by law, and she dropped her allegations – which include harassment, gender bias and retaliation – against the city. She also agreed not to sue the city.
“Choosing to settle this matter was not an admission of any wrongdoing by the city on any of the allegations made by Ms. Reed,” Deputy City Manager Joe Lopez said in an email. “The city treated Ms. Reed in a lawful and fair manner. In the end, we have to do what’s right for Modesto and what will move the city forward. In this case, it meant placing Ms. Reed on paid administrative leave for the duration of her employment.”
Lopez added that in reaching the settlement the city considered the high cost of defending itself if Reed filed a lawsuit as well as the effect on employee morale if this matter were not resolved. Reed also did not admit to any wrongdoing, according to the settlement.
This is not the first time she raised concerns about Modesto. She was one of three female city workers who sued the city in February 2005, alleging they were punished for raising questions about gender discrimination. Modesto agreed to pay them $3.25 million in March 2007 to settle their lawsuit.
The Bee has filed a California Public Records Act request for the city’s investigations of Reed as well as the complaints against her and the complaints she made against the city. Lopez said Modesto is not releasing the investigations. He said the ones investigating Reed were done by attorneys and subject to the attorney-client privilege. He said the investigation of Reed’s complaints was not completed.
Reed, 64, did not return two phone calls or respond to an email seeking comment. But the settlement essentially bars her from commenting.
She “will maintain confidentiality with respect to the factual and/or legal basis for any potential or actual grievance, dispute, controversy, claim, discipline appeal, action and lawsuit and any concerns she had regarding anything connected to her employment with the city, the Solid Waste Division or Public Works Department,” according to the settlement.
Reed has not worked for the city for months. Modesto placed her on paid administrative leave April 19. So she potentially could be paid about $300,000 in salary without working. Lopez said in his email that it took time to resolve this matter because it was a “highly complicated personnel situation involving multiple complaints.”
While the city has refused to disclose the nature of the investigations, Reed said in August the city was conducting three against her. She said one accused her of using inappropriate language, a second accused her of playing favorites in promotions and a third accused her of giving special treatment to forestry workers. The Solid Waste Division covers compost, green waste, street sweeping, forestry and solid waste operations.
Reed acknowledged using inappropriate language but said the two other investigations were baseless.
She spoke about the investigations the same day she attended a City Council Audit Committee meeting that reviewed a report about the Solid Waste Division that recommended eliminating Reed’s job. She told committee members the report was riddled with errors and falsehoods. Lopez said officials have reviewed Reed’s claims and will respond to them at an upcoming Audit Committee meeting.
Reed said after the meeting that the city was retaliating against her after she complained that a male manager with the same responsibilities was paid more and for complaining that her bosses stopped her from hiring more forestry workers even though she had the funding for the positions.
Lopez said Reed will continue to receive health insurance but will no longer receive vacation and other leave time. He said she cashed in $16,767 in accumulated vacation and other leave time as required by the settlement. Reed is a member of the Modesto Confidential & Management Association, and the 2 percent raises are part of a July labor agreement between the city and the union.
Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316