A letter written by an Albuquerque attorney states two members of the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees allegedly broke Co-op policies regarding employee confidentiality and sexual harassment.
Attorney J. Edward Hollington wrote the letter, dated Feb. 22, on behalf of his client Nathan Duran, the Jemez Springs district manager. The letter was addressed to former general manager Donna Montoya-Trujillo and District 5 Trustee Nick Naranjo, who was Board president at the time.
The letter states Duran received a report Jan. 10 that a female Co-op employee was filing a sexual harassment complaint against him.
The letter alleges that later that same day, Naranjo “had been making inquiries whether a sexual harassment complaint had been reported against Mr. Duran.”
The female employee also called Duran to tell him District 6 Trustee and then Board vice president Marquez approached her after a meeting to ask if he was sexually harassing her, the letter states.
Marquez also allegedly asked the female employee if her husband and Duran got into a physical altercation.
All statements, insinuations and inquisitions alleging the two had a relationship and that she filed, or planned to file, a sexual harassment complaint are false, the letter states.
“(Naranjo and Marquez’) statements and conduct during the events described above not only violate Board of Trustee policies and (Co-op) policies relating to sexual harassment, but also exposes (the Co-op) to potential liability for defamation, false light and other tortious conduct,” the letter states.
Marquez and Naranjo allegedly broke three Board policies, as well as the Co-op’s personnel policy manual, the letter states.
All complaints of sexual harassment and the investigation into complaints are supposed to be confidential. Trustees have no involvement with the Co-op’s sexual harassment reporting or investigation procedures unless it involves another trustee or the general manager.
Co-op employees would not provide a copy of the personnel policy manual to the Rio Grande SUN reporter or comment on the sexual harassment reporting and investigation process.
Hollington wrote Naranjo and Marquez violated the Board’s code of conduct policy because they “misrepresented facts, made defamatory statements about (Co-op) employees and disclosed confidential information, which is evidence of bad faith and not acting in the best interest of the Co-op.”
Board policy 104 states trustees are not to discuss Co-op matters directly with employees, unless deemed necessary or authorized by the general manager.
Hollington wrote that this is exactly what Marquez did when he approached the female employee.
“Finally, (Duran) received additional information that you are targeting him because of (his) family relationship with another Board member,” the letter states.
If this is true, Hollington wrote, this would also violate the Board’s policy of disclosing conflict of interests.
Duran is related to former District 6 trustee Bruce Duran.
A majority of the Board voted to disqualify Bruce Duran’s June election results during a July 3 special Board meeting.
Co-op contract attorney Charles Garcia, of Cuddy & McCarthy, LLP, presented evidence to prove Bruce Duran was not a resident at the address on his Co-op membership and did not meet qualifications to serve on the Board.
Marquez said he had no knowledge of the letter and was unable to comment. Naranjo did not return multiple phone calls inquiring about the alleged events.
Hollington sent a second letter dated March 29 to Naranjo and Montoya-Trujillo.
“I requested prompt, thorough, and remedial actions, and to date I have received no response and am not aware if the Board of Trustees has taken action or conducted any investigation of the statements and conduct described in my Feb. 22 letter,” Hollington wrote.
Marquez and the nine other trustees, as well as Co-op contract attorney Nancy Long, of Long, Komer & Associates, PA, received copies of the second letter.
Hollington did not return an Aug. 1 email inquiring whether or not anyone from the Co-op, or an attorney, responded
Co-op interim general manager Andrew Chávez said he could not comment because there is a potential for litigation. He also said he could not discuss personnel issues.