Holley alleges LMUD board forced his resignation in order to hire a younger general manager

Pat Holley, Lassen Municipal Utility District’s former general manager. File photo

Heads were scratched across Lassen County when residents learned former Lassen Municipal Utility District General Manager Pat Holley had filed a civil rights claim against the district — to be discussed by the LMUD board in closed session tonight, Tuesday, July 25. According to his civil rights claim, Holley alleges the board forced him to resign in order to hire a younger general manager.

Ah, but that’s not what LMUD reported out of closed session the night it said Holley resigned.

According to a June 28, 2023, statement from LMUD reporting the action taken in closed session, “Pat Holley has resigned from his position as general manager of Lassen MUD in order to spend time with family and pursue other career opportunities. Mr. Holley’s last day as GM will be July 5, 2023.”

Holley disputes that statement and alleges he suffered age discrimination by a board member while being considered for the general manager position, and since that time a younger candidate has searched for complaints and allegations against him, and “Based on those allegations, the board of directors forced my resignation June 27, 2023 in order to replace me with a younger employee.”

As part of his complaint, Holley alleges he was discriminated against because of his age, that he was asked “impermissible non-job-related questions” and that he was both suspended and forced to quit.

Holley is represented by J. Edward Brooks, a Sacramento attorney.

Despite Holley’s claim, at tonight’s meeting, the board unanimously approved an executive search proposal for a general manager with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Information on Holley’s claim was included in the board packet for the meeting.

Here is Holley’s statement, included in a filing with the California Civil Rights Department
“During the selection process for a general manager in early 2021, I was under consideration and filed my application for the position. I filed this application based on my current experience and role at the time as assistant general manager for LMUD. Additionally, my background for the prior 15 years included positions as general manager for Greenleaf Power and business manager for Covanta Energy.

“While in discussions with the LMUD board of directors, one director said, ‘Why do we always get these managers who are in the “twilight of their careers?'” referring to my candidacy. A younger candidate who was the IT manager for LMUD had also filed his application for the position and was preferred by this director and two staff members who lobbied the board members on behalf of this younger candidate. I was selected as interim general manager in April 2021, and finally selected as general manager in June 2021.

“After this decision, there were comments from the younger candidate to board members regarding his intent to search for and find complaints and accusations against me. These activities have been ongoing since that time.

“Based on these allegations, the board of directors forced my resignation June 27, 2023 in order to replace me with a younger employee.”

What’s in Holley ‘s contract?
Here’s the information in Holley ‘s contract regarding discipline and termination.

Discipline and termination
For cause by district. Subject to the rights afforded Holley under Public Utility Code section 11929, the district reserves the right to immediately terminate this agreement or otherwise discipline Holley if “just cause” exists for Holley ‘s termination, demotion or other discipline. “Just cause” includes, but is not limited to: breaches the duties which Holley is required to perform under the terms of this agreement; acts of dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation; incompetence; intemperance; immoral conduct; insubordination; discourteous treatment of the public or district employees; being under the influence while on duty; conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; inexcusable absence without leave; improper use of district property; falsification of reports; violation of safety rules; and inattention to public service. The district may, at its option, commence discipline in accordance with GMAP 2006-03 or otherwise terminate this agreement for the reasons stated herein by giving written notice of termination to Holley without prejudice to any other remedy to which the district may be entitled, either at law, in equity, or under this agreement. The Notice of Termination required by this section shall specify the grounds for termination and shall be supported by a brief statement of relevant facts. In the event of such termination for cause, Holley shall neither be entitled, nor shall receive, any future payment of compensation beyond the termination date, nor any benefits or programs, which are not yet fully vested at the time of such termination for cause.

Without cause by district
Notwithstanding any other provision contained in this agreement, within five years from the date of execution of this agreement, and upon an affirmative vote of not less than three-fifths of the board, Holley may be terminated without any cause whatsoever. During this five-year period of time, Holley is deemed an at-will/probationary employee, without any Skelly, GMAP 2006-03, or similar due process rights. If the district elects to terminate Holley under this ‘without cause’ provision, the district shall cause Holley to be paid a severance amount equal to 12-months of his then-current monthly salary. The total amount of severance pay shall be designated as wages subject to withholdings and W2 tax reporting. Other than this severance pay, Holley shall neither be entitled, nor shall receive, any payment of compensation beyond the termination date, nor any benefits or programs, which are not yet fully vested at the time of such termination without cause. Deposit of any severance check/money issued by the district to Holley shall result in a full and complete waiver, discharge and release of any and all claims Holley may have against the district, whether arising in contract, tort, or otherwise. Failure to deposit any severance check/money shall not affect the validity of the without cause termination. The only claims not included in this waiver, discharge and release would be Workers Compensation benefits or Disability Retirement benefits in regard to an incident that occurred prior to the date of termination.

By resignation
Holley may terminate this agreement upon 60 days written notice of resignation presented to the president of the board. In such case, Holley shall not be entitled to any further compensation for the unexpired term of this agreement beyond the termination date set forth in Holley’s Notice of Resignation, nor shall Holley be entitled to any benefits or other programs which are not yet vested at the time of the effective date of such resignation.

The LMUD board’s action in closed session considering Holley’s claim at its July 25 meeting, if any, had not been reported when this story went to press.