Wayne McDonald, fired employee accused of sex harassment, sues Michael Hancock, Denver

Wayne McDonald doesn't want his job back, but he would like to clear his name. That's the main reason McDonald -- a friend and former staffer of Mayor Michael Hancock who was fired amid sexual harassment allegations -- has filed a lawsuit against the city, his attorney says. The lawsuit alleges that the city jumped on unsubstantiated allegations of sexual harassment, costing him his job and reputation.

Back in June, a day before the mayor had to face reporters at a news conference on Denver's budget, news broke that the city had fired McDonald due to "serious allegations of misconduct."

McDonald has worked with the mayor in a variety of capacities for many years. He was his driver during his mayoral campaign, he attended college with Hancock and he also had a job at the Denver Urban League when Hancock was the organization's president. Most recently, the mayor appointed McDonald as his "special projects coordinator" for the city. That's the position McDonald lost after he allegedly made inappropriate comments in front of a female Denver police officer.

In September, McDonald's attorney said they would be suing the city and also had filed a complaint with the city's Board of Ethics.

Hancock hasn't said much on the matter, other than noting that he cares about McDonald and his family.

The lawsuit names the police officer who made the allegations, Hancock and Amber Miller, Hancock's press secretary.

"It is our position, and it has been from day one, that if the city had investigated the matter, they would have known that [the police officer] lied," says Anne Sulton, McDonald's attorney. "And special care should be taken for every case where sexual harassment is alleged, because of the impact it has on one's reputation."

The lawsuit goes into detail about the nature of McDonald's relationship with the police officer and how the news broke about the allegations of sexual harassment, which his attorney maintains are false.

McDonald was hired in July of 2011 as "executive advisor to the mayor, special projects manager," with an annual salary set at $85,000. Shortly after Hancock was sworn into office, he selected the police officer involved in the case to serve on his security detail, the lawsuit says.

McDonald did not direct or supervise this officer in anyway, but, the lawsuit says, "When McDonald travelled around the City with Hancock, McDonald would see and interact with [the officer]. They engaged in conversations ranging from workplace issues, sporting events, and personal matters."

They had regular non-work-related phone conversations aswell, and from September 12, 2011 to November 3, 2011, the officer called McDonald on his personal cell phone at least eight times, the suit alleges.

On the date in November, she called him at home in a conversation that lasted for 31 minutes. The call was recorded by the officer without McDonald's knowledge or consent, the lawsuit says.

The following month, they talked on the phone at least five times and the police officer and McDonald exchanged holiday gifts.

McDonald ended up transferring to the Department of Excise and Licenses in March; the last time he saw this police officer was that same month, when she came to the church he attends and he introduced her to his family members. From February through March, the officer called McDonald, on his personal cell phone, at least seventeen times, the suit alleges.

Continue for more details on the lawsuit against the city.

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Sam Levin
Contact: Sam Levin

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