San Diego MTS Chief Information Officer Files Lawsuit for Retaliation Over Nathan Fletcher Allegations

Nathan Fletcher

After months out of the public eye following his disgraceful exit from politics, Nathan Fletcher, former San Diego Board of Supervisors, Chair for Metropolitan Transit System Board, and husband to Cal Labor’s Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, is back in the news, and not in a good way. As RedState reported in December 2023, MTS’ Chief Information Officer Emily Outlaw filed a tort claim, which is the precursor to a lawsuit, stating that she was retaliated against for refusing to lie about Nathan Fletcher’s alleged sexual harassment of former MTS staffer Grecia Figueroa, and because Outlaw refused to hack into Grecia Figueroa’s private messaging account. On March 19, Outlaw moved from the claim to a full lawsuit against MTS, specifically naming Fletcher and Figueroa.

The Chief Information Officer for the Metropolitan Transit System says she was retaliated against for refusing to hide facts and hack into accounts during the agency’s investigation into Nathan Fletcher’s sexual assault and harassment allegations. 

In a March 19 non-conformed lawsuit, Emily Outlaw says she was not given a raise and was placed on administrative leave after she discovered that a top MTS executive was aware of the sexual harassment allegations against then-chair Nathan Fletcher long before the agency said it was. 

Outlaw also alleges that MTS Chief Operating Officer, Sharon Cooney, retaliated against her after she refused to have employees hack into Fletcher accuser, Grecia Figueroa’s private messaging app.

MTS at first denied that it attempted to cover up Figueroa’s sexual harassment allegations. Outlaw’s tort claim blew that out of the water.

In April 2023, Outlaw was tasked with looking into Figueroa’s allegations. 

The first task was to find out exactly when MTS was made aware of the claims against Fletcher.

According to an April 6 press release from MTS, as well as in statements to CBS 8 that same day, the agency was not aware of Figueroa’s allegations until March 29, the day after Figueroa filed her lawsuit, Outlaw soon discovered the agency knew nearly two months before that.

Reads the lawsuit, “This press release was false. The MTS, through its Chief Human Resources Officer, Jeff Stumbo, had actually learned about Figueroa’s claims around February 17, 2023, through an email with an attached letter from Figuerora’s lawyer to him.”

Stumbo claimed that the email from Figueroa’s lawyer may have ended up in the spam folder. In Outlaw’s investigation, the email did indeed wind up in the spam folder, but it showed that not only had Stumbo opened and read the email around February 17, but that he took the time to forward it to MTS’ outside attorneys.

“Outlaw told [CEO Sharon Cooney] the February 17, 2023 email from Figueroa’s lawyer to Stumbo had gone to his spam folder, but that Stumbo had opened and read the email and had forwarded it to the MTS’s outside counsel. Cooney looked stunned and abruptly left her office without any comment, leaving Outlaw alone there,” reads the lawsuit. 

Outlaw says that the second task that she and the IT department were given was to gain access to Figueroa’s ‘Jabber’ messaging account.

The lawsuit claims that Outlaw immediately objected to Cooney’s demands.

“Outlaw informed the MTS that she and her team could not do this because MTS’s express policies prohibited this and to retrieve these Jabber messages would have required the IT employees to hack into Figueroa’s private communications,” states the complaint. “So, Outlaw refused to have her IT team try to retrieve the Jabber messages.”

It was after Outlaw refused to comply with Cooney’s demands that the lawsuit alleges her working relationship with Cooney deteriorated, her performance reviews were negatively impacted, and she did not receive a customary cost of living raise. In December of 2023, Outlaw was placed on administrative leave. 

In a statement, Gilleon told CBS 8 that MTS’s actions against Outlaw will not place taxpayers on the hook for attorney fees and damages to Outlaw’s career.

“The MTS leadership tried to crush Ms. Outlaw because she told the truth about emails her bosses said were lost. Ms. Outlaw’s only mistake was thinking hard work and integrity would be rewarded, not cause her superiors to draw a large target on her back,” said Gilleon. “This lawsuit will not cause MTS to halt the use of finger-pointing, back-biting, and deception as its first line of defense. Instead, MTS will pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to private defense lawyers to continue the dodge-and-weave, at least until its politically-bent leadership thinks the taxpayers won’t notice when they finally take responsibility for wrecking Ms. Outlaw’s career.”

MTS’ outside counsel claims it has not seen the lawsuit but responded with a five-page letter on behalf of MTS denying the allegations in the initial tort claim.

2024 3 05 MTS Rejection of Claim by Susie Moore on Scribd

In part:

Contrary to Ms. Outlaw’s claims that she was inadequately supported or ostracized, she was encouraged to attend the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) conference in Orlando with the CEO in October 2023, was approved to attend an international conference in Ireland in October 2023, had most of her recommended IT projects approved by the CEO, was allowed to proceed with her department promotional recommendations, and has been included in all high level and confidential meetings for the MTS Executive Team. None of the above is consistent with an effort to encourage Ms. Outlaw to quit her job.

There is no evidence that supports the retaliation allegations described in Ms. Outlaw’s Claim form. 

MTS commissioned an investigation of the Grecia Figueroa allegations and issued a 90-page report at the end of January, essentially absolving Nathan Fletcher of any wrongdoing or involvement in the termination of Figueroa. The he said/she said nature of the allegations have been complicated by allegations in the lawsuit that Fletcher’s wife, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, allegedly threatened retaliation against Figueroa if she did not drop the suit. 

The trial date for the Figueroa-Fletcher lawsuit is scheduled for February 2025.

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