SAN DIEGO — Former county supervisor and Metropolitan Transit System board chairman Nathan Fletcher had no involvement in the firing of a woman accusing him of sexual harassment and assault, according to an independent investigation released today by MTS.
The investigation also found that prior to the woman’s termination, MTS officials had no knowledge of any kind of relationship between Fletcher and Grecia Figueroa, who sued Fletcher and MTS last year, claiming the ex-MTS chair groped her and sexually harassed her by pursuing a sexual relationship with her for months.
Her lawsuit also alleges MTS fired her at Fletcher’s direction. Figueroa was terminated from her media relations position last February, on the day Fletcher announced his state Senate candidacy.
MTS officials alleged Figueroa’s termination was performance-related and denied any connection between the firing and the allegations against Fletcher.
The transit agency later retained Oppenheimer Investigations Group LLP to conduct an investigation into Figueroa’s claims. According to its website, the firm specializes in investigating complaints regarding workplace harassment, retaliation, discrimination and similar misconduct claims.
The firm’s 87-page report details interviews with numerous MTS officials, all of whom denied having knowledge of any sort of relationship between Figueroa and Fletcher prior to her firing and subsequent lawsuit. They also denied that Fletcher had any role in her termination and that personnel decisions like hirings and firings are the responsibility of MTS’ CEO. Fletcher has said he found out about Figueroa’s firing after the fact.
The report also stated there was “significant evidence that Figueroa had performance issues” and cited her performance reviews throughout the years, including an August 2022 evaluation that states “immediate and sustained improvement” in certain areas “is necessary to maintain employment.”
In response to the report, one of Fletcher’s attorneys, Sean McKaveney, said, “As we have known from the beginning, Mr. Fletcher was not Ms. Figueroa’s employer or supervisor, and he played no role in her termination whatsoever. We are pleased that these facts have finally been confirmed and are now publicly available.”
Figueroa’s attorney, Jessica Pride, said that after reviewing the report, “We can’t help but feel unsurprised and disappointed. These purportedly independent results simply spout baseless ‘performance issues’ as a means of avoiding liability when it is clear that Ms. Figueroa was thriving at work before Fletcher announced his run for political office.”
Pride also criticized the way the investigation was conducted, saying it was done without interviewing or consulting Figueroa.
“How could a fair or impartial investigation occur when the victim herself is not given the opportunity to tell her story?” Pride said. “It is clear that MTS has engaged in practices designed to protect its own interests, and perhaps even the interests of former Chairman Nathan Fletcher, rather than look out for its own employees. We will continue to uncover the truth and seek accountability as this case proceeds toward trial next year.”
Less than two months after Fletcher announced his state Senate bid, he ended his campaign, stating that he would seek treatment for post-traumatic stress and alcohol abuse.
Figueroa’s lawsuit soon followed, leading to Fletcher’s resignation from the county Board of Supervisors and MTS Board.
While Fletcher has acknowledged a relationship with Figueroa, he has claimed all interactions between the pair were consensual.
Fletcher’s attorneys recently released a series of messages between Fletcher and Figueroa spanning more than a year that they allege show a consensual relationship.
Since Figueroa’s lawsuit, another woman has accused Fletcher of improper behavior when she interned for him at UC San Diego. A UCSD professor has since filed a legal claim against the county, in which she alleges she was retaliated against for reporting the intern’s claims.
Figueroa alleges that beginning in 2021, Fletcher began “stalking” her social media account and then sought to meet with her privately on several occasions. On two of those occasions, she claims he assaulted her.
The complaint alleges Figueroa “was intimidated by the dynamic Fletcher had created” and says she “felt pressured to reciprocate Fletcher’s advances because she knew he had authority as both a career politician and as chair of the MTS Board to destroy her career at MTS and to potentially humiliate her publicly if she made him angry.”
After the allegations went public, Fletcher stated that he “made a terrible mistake engaging in consensual interactions with someone outside my marriage,” who is now seeking “millions of dollars from me and my family with the threat of not only embarrassment but a willingness to lie about the circumstances and nature of the interactions.” Fletcher’s attorney issued a similar statement, saying Figueroa “pursued my client” and was looking “to obtain millions of dollars.”