MARTA’s former chief financial officer was dogged by allegations of sexual harassment. Investigators did not substantiate the claims but labeled him a legal liability.

MARTA official, facing complaints, gets $185,000 severance package

A former MARTA administrator who was fired after allegations of sexual harassment will receive a six-figure severance package.

Former Chief Financial Officer Gordon Hutchinson will receive $185,000 in severance payments and attorneys’ fees under the terms of an agreement obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He’ll also get $8,565 to cover health insurance costs.

Hutchinson was the subject of sexual harassment complaints from two women in recent years. Though investigators did not substantiate the complaints, outside experts twice warned MARTA he was a legal liability. The agency failed to discipline Hutchinson after each complaint, but it fired him in October, almost a year after the most recent investigation.

“All I can say is that we are happy we were able to get the case resolved without having to file suit,” Hutchinson’s attorney, Matt Maguire, said of the severance agreement.

MARTA Chief Counsel Elizabeth O’Neill declined to comment on how the severance package was determined. The agency recently said that Hutchinson’s “continued employment was not in the best interest of MARTA.”

Hutchinson spent six years as chief financial officer for the regional transit agency. When he arrived in 2013, MARTA was on the verge of insolvency. He was credited with aiding a financial revival that paved the way for transit expansions in Atlanta and Clayton County.

But a recent AJC investigation found Hutchinson was dogged by allegations of bullying and inappropriate comments. Two female employees complained that he made degrading comments about their clothing, hair and body shape.

Hutchinson denied any wrongdoing, and external investigations did not substantiate the allegations. But investigators labeled him a legal liability, and MARTA required him to undergo executive coaching.

When asked why it had parted ways with Hutchinson, MARTA cited a passage from a 2018 investigation report that described “a track record of complaints against him” and found he had “undergone executive coaching without apparent changes to his behavior.”

The Dec. 4 severance agreement requires MARTA to pay Hutchinson a $174,000 severance in two payments, the second of which is due Jan. 17. It also requires the agency to pay $11,000 in attorneys’ fees and enough money to cover about nine months of health insurance.

The agreement also requires MARTA to provide Hutchinson a neutral reference.

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