Former Turlock City Manager Alleges Retaliation, Cover-Up
Former Turlock City Manager Gary Hampton had intended to retire Aug. 31. But the search for his eventual replacement became so heated and unscrupulous, he says, that he was forced to leave six weeks early. Now he has filed a formal claim -- the precursor to a lawsuit -- against the city.
“In May 2017, I was solicited by an appointed official of the City to engage in unethical activities intended to undermine the 2017 City Manager recruitment/selection process, whereby I was requested to influence the selection of the next city manager to the benefit of the appointed official who was a candidate for the position,” Hampton claims. “After refusing, I became the subject of continuous criticism and character attacks by the appointed official and supporters of the official, amounting to a hostile work environment.”
Hampton says he reported the matter to elected officials, but that he was met with “immediate bullying and retaliation.” He says he witnessed “collusion between the elected and appointed officials to engage in a cover-up and further retaliation.”
Mayor Gary Soiseth, Councilman Matthew Jacob, and City Attorney Phaedra Norton have all been accused of participating in the harassment campaign and/or cover-up.
"I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegations set forth in the claim," Norton responded Wednesday. Soiseth also denied the allegations.
Turlock officials note that this isn’t the first time Hampton has filed a legal claim against a former employer. In July 2016, he accused the City of Tracy of discriminating against him over a disability caused by a knee injury.