An events manager for the city of Austin, Tex., who is known for overseeing the South by Southwest festival, has been formally reprimanded for refusing to meet with female city employees.
The city opened an investigation in July after a business specialist at the Austin Center for Events complained that the manager, William Manno, had skipped meetings “because he believed a communications consultant in attendance had romantic feelings for him,” according to The Austin American-Statesman, which reported the story on Thursday.
Mr. Manno also “ended regular lunches with the communications consultant, telling her, ‘I’ve been told it is not appropriate for a married man to have lunch with a single lady.’” He even discussed moving her and another woman to different jobs “because his wife objected to some of their interactions with him.”
According to a July 10 memo obtained by The American-Statesman, the communications consultant told investigators that “she had told him she was not interested in him romantically and only sought to have lunches with him for mentoring purposes.”
The reprimand was issued last month, and on Wednesday, The American-Statesman reported, Mr. Manno filed a grievance disputing the findings. “Many of the statements included in the reprimand memo are based on misleading and incorrect information,” he wrote.
Mr. Manno did not respond to an email and a voice mail message seeking comment Thursday evening.
David Green, a spokesman for the city of Austin, acknowledged that Mr. Manno had been reprimanded, but said that he could not discuss personnel issues, including whether other penalties would be imposed as a result of the investigation. He noted, however, that the women “were in no way complicit.”
Thomas Kochan, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-director of the M.I.T. Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research, said women in such situations could assert a legal claim of discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of…