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Austin official refused to meet with female employee out of assumption she liked him

Photo via Dean Drobot/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Much like Mike Pence, he believes it’s not appropriate for a married man to dine alone with a woman.

Looks like Vice President Mike Pence isn’t the only man fearful of being alone in the presence of a woman. Meet William Manno, the Austin city official who has been reprimanded for assuming a coworker was sexually attracted to him.

Manno, the city of Austin’s special events manager, was first investigated by the city in July. He missed a meeting because he feared a communications consultant “had romantic feelings for him,” Slate writes. However, the consultant says she told Manno that she was not romantically or sexually attracted to him, she just wanted to work by his side as a mentor. This did not deter Manno, she says, who began canceling meetings with her out of fear she was secretly attracted to him.

“I’ve been told it is not appropriate for a married man to have lunch with a single lady,” Manno told the consultant, according to an investigation memo.

Manno even considered reassigning the consultant and a female assistant city attorney outside of his department, said a business specialist who filed a complaint against Manno. Previously, Manno gave the business specialist a ride in his car to Austin’s City Hall, despite the fact his wife had asked Manno not to have a female employee alone in his vehicle. According to the specialist, his wife told her they were having problems in their marriage.

Manno has since received a reprimanding from city officials. But Manno quickly filed a grievance against the action, arguing that the city is depicting him as a man who refuses any private interactions with female coworkers.

“Many of the statements included in the reprimand memo are based on misleading and incorrect information,” Manno complained in response, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

According to the city’s human resources department, Manno violated the city of Austin’s code of conduct by discriminating against female employees. The city’s retaliation policy also protects whistleblowers from punishment, which Manno allegedly violated when he asked the business specialist about her report on his conduct toward the female communications consultant. If Manno breaks the code again, he could be fired.

“Mr. Manno differentiated in his mentoring of subordinate employees based upon gender and marital status, and he likewise made decisions regarding which meetings he and a subordinate would attend based on marital status and factors unrelated to his role as a manager for the city of Austin,” the city’s HR acting division manager, Susan Starks, wrote in an email obtained by the American-Statesman.

Manno follows a long legacy of dudes who have trouble spending time alone with female professionals. Aside from Pence, who refuses to have dinner with women that aren’t his wife, the Blaze’s Matt Walsh seems to agree that married men have no good reason to spend alone time with women. Some men are just can’t imagine a world where men and women regularly meet each other and not have sex.

H/T Slate

Correction: A previous version called Manno an SXSW official and organizer, which is inaccurate; he works for the city of Austin as an events manager.

Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.