Commissioners approve $499,000 settlement for manager fired in 2008


A dispute over the firing of a former assistant parks manager is costing Clark County almost half a million dollars.

The County Commission approved a $499,000 settlement Tuesday for former Assistant Parks Director Terry Lamuraglia, who was fired in 2008 for what county officials said were publicized emails indicating he created a plan to leave almost 90 parks unguarded by park police during Memorial Day weekend.

The plan was scrapped.

At the time of his firing, Lamuraglia, a former fire union official, said he followed the orders of Leonard Cash, who was the parks director, in creating the holiday plan.

He argued Cash wanted park police patrols to concentrate in the far northwest valley and the Wetlands Park in the east valley, leaving the Metropolitan Police Department to handle calls at all other parks.

But Lamuraglia said that wasn't the real reason for his firing. He said he believed he was fired because he refused to discriminate against a gay manager whose sexual orientation made Cash feel "uncomfortable."

Lamuraglia filed a complaint with human resources.

According to court documents filed on Lamuraglia's behalf, Cash told him to give the manager a bad evaluation to block her from a pay raise and create a pretext for firing her.

Those same documents said Cash would openly quote Scripture at work regarding the "biblical prohibition of homosexuality" and made disparaging remarks about female colleagues.

According to the settlement terms, Lamuraglia will get $369,000 for lost income, benefits and retirement contributions. The other $130,000 will pay his legal fees. About $3,600 of the total will be withheld from the settlement figure for mediation fees.

In a written statement, Daniel Marks and Adam Levine, Lamuraglia's attorneys, wrote that because the county sided with Cash and allowed him to transfer over to Family Court, that "forced Mr. Lamuraglia into a four-year battle to vindicate himself and clear his name."

"Mr. Lamuraglia is grateful to those members of the County Commission who were courageous enough to objectively look at the evidence in this case and to remedy the retaliatory actions taken by Leonard Cash in 2008," the statement read.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak slammed the settlement, saying he believes Lamuraglia "gamed the system" for a hefty payday. He was the lone vote against in the 5-1 outcome. Commissioner Tom Collins was not present for the vote.

"The motives, in my opinion, are in question whether or not they were really real," Sisolak said. "I'm offended by the half a million dollars we're talking about here. The individual waited to file (his) complaint until after he found there was a potential termination coming about."

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said the decision was difficult.

"This settlement is not an acceptance on our part as commissioners that this behavior, no matter who it belonged to, is acceptable at the county," Giunchigliani said of the parks staffing, the manager's retaliation and Lamuraglia's legal victory.

Lamuraglia filed a discrimination charge on the same day he was fired with the county's office of diversity, which investigated the complaint and completed an internal report.

That report concluded Lamuraglia's claim that he was fired for failing to discriminate against a gay manager was not supported by facts. But it also said that his firing in part was in retaliation by Cash for complaining to human resources about the alleged discrimination.

The report further stated that while Cash disapproved of the manager because she was gay, there was no evidence that he asked Lamuraglia to evaluate her poorly or reject her bonuses, as Lamuraglia has alleged.

Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

 

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