Airport GM payout soars to $230,000 District reimburses Chilcott for $10,000 settlement costs
Former Truckee-Tahoe Airport General Manager Mary Catherine Tennant’s gender-based discrimination lawsuit against the airport district and a former board member was settled with a final price tag of $230,000.
The suit originally settled for $200,000 April 28 after district officials, former TTAD board member William Chilcott and Tennant ironed out the details with a mediator in San Francisco. Steve Gross, TTAD counsel, said initial settlement terms and conditions were modified, which caused the $30,000 increase in Tennant’s favor.
Gross said the mediated settlement provided the district and its insurance carrier were responsible for taxes associated with the payout. After negotiating the new settlement, Tennant is now responsible for the related taxes, he said.
“We basically traded some money for the risk,” he said.
Under the new settlement terms, TTAD paid $135,000 to Tennant, Phoenix Aviation Managers Inc. – the district’s insurance carrier – paid $85,000 and Chilcott was responsible for $10,000. At the June 26 TTAD board meeting, however, directors voted to reimburse Chilcott for his portion.
Gross said under a resolution approved by board members in 1986, TTAD indemnifies directors who incur expenditures or charges in the scope of their duties. Since that time, the district has set aside $15,000 per year to self-insure directors instead of paying an insurance premium, he said.
“(Chilcott) asked the district to reimburse him for the $10,000 and they considered his request sound,” Gross said.
The lawsuit was originally filed in August 1996 in Placer County Superior Court in Auburn, alleging Chilcott said Tennant was hired because two board members had sexual interest in her. The trial 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.
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 the board was looking for an excuse to dismiss her.
Tennant currently works at the Visalia Municipal Airport, which is about 45 miles from Fresno.
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