Airport, former GM settle lawsuit
Former Truckee-Tahoe Airport General Manager Mary Catherine Tennant’s gender-based discrimination lawsuit against the airport district and a former board member settled out of court Monday for $200,000.
Truckee attorney Bob Cohune, who represents Tennant, said district officials, former TTAD board member William Chilcott and Tennant ironed out the settlement with a mediator in San Francisco. The settlement includes the cash award and several non-monetary conditions, he added.
Although details of the payout were not released before press time, TTAD legal counsel Steven Gross said the district, Chilcott and Tennant agreed to release a joint statement this week. When contacted, Chilcott refused to comment.
The lawsuit was originally filed in August 1996 in Placer County Superior Court in Auburn, alleging Chilcott said Tennant was only hired because two board members had sexual interest in her. The case was scheduled to begin June 10.
The lawsuit also alleged the board did not act in a timely manner to respond to the sexual discrimination claims, but did place Tennant on leave pending investigation of the charges.
Originally named as defendants in the suit were TTAD board members Barbara Northrop and Robert Marshall, as well as ex-board member Louis Reinkens. Charges against them, however, were dismissed with prejudice in December for what their attorneys called a lack of evidence.
Cohune praised the district’s current General Manager Peter Soderquist and board members Donald Bedard, Ken Foster and Don Starbard for their role in settling the case.
“They deserve a lot of credit because they dealt with this factually and actually,” Cohune said. “I am very happy they took the bull by the horns.”
Tennant was fired in February 1996 after a significant amount of water was found in a fuel storage tank at the airport.
While board members said Tennant’s employment ended because of the fuel contamination incident, Tennant, her attorneys and her supporters maintained she the board was looking for an excuse to dismiss her.
Tennant currently works as general manager for the Visalia Municipal Airport, which is about 45 miles from Fresno.
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