Jan 26, 2024 - News

Investigation: Ex-county supervisor "not involved" in transit system staffer firing

A Metropolitan Transit System trolley

The Metropolitan Transit System's trolley. Photo: Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former county supervisor Nathan Fletcher "was not involved" in firing a former Metropolitan Transit System staffer who accused him of sexual assault and harassment during a series of encounters in 2021 and 2022, according to an outside investigation into the agency's handling of a scandal that led to Fletcher's resignation.

State of play: MTS released findings yesterday by Oppenheimer Investigations Group into Grecia Figueroa's lawsuit last year against Fletcher and MTS that alleged sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation.

Investigators determined:

  • MTS employees and officials were unaware of any "personal" or "intimate" relationship between Fletcher and Figueroa ahead of her termination.
  • Evidence of Figueroa's "ongoing performance issues" represented a "plausible explanation" for her termination.
  • Despite board members' anger upon learning of the lawsuit in the press, agency officials were reasonable not to immediately report the accusations to the board.

Flashback: Figueroa last March accused Fletcher, then-MTS board chair, of stalking her on social media before initiating a flirtatious online relationship in which she reciprocated out of fear of retaliation.

  • Fletcher dropped his state Senate campaign as soon as the allegation became public and later resigned his supervisorial seat.
  • Questions over MTS' response led the board to hire Oppenheimer last April to investigate Figueroa's firing and whether Fletcher or their relationship were connected.

Between the lines: The investigation did not look into whether Fletcher and Figueroa's relationship was consensual, or if it constituted sexual harassment or assault.

  • The fact that board members learned of the lawsuit in the media led them to wonder whether Fletcher's "political power and influence had impacted MTS officials' better judgment."
  • The investigation "did not uncover evidence that MTS officials were trying to protect Fletcher, hide information from the board or otherwise acted in bad faith."

The other side: Despite concluding that performance issues plausibly explained Figueora's termination, the investigation did find she received positive reviews in her first and second years of employment.

  • "The fact that Figueroa received a negative evaluation only after the alleged sexual harassment and assault by Fletcher could suggest that her job performance was not the reason for the termination," the investigation reads.
  • "Many witnesses," including her supervisors, told investigators that Figueroa excelled in certain areas, while others reported ongoing struggles.

What they're saying: Figueroa's attorney, Jessica Pride, issued a statement saying they were "unsurprised and disappointed," calling the allegations of "performance issues" baseless and stressing that Figueroa was not interviewed or consulted by the "supposedly independent" body.

  • Fletcher's attorneys, who recently released Instagram messages that they argue reflect a consensual relationship, in a statement to Axios said the investigation proved their contention that Fletcher was not Figueroa's supervisor and played no role in her termination.

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