Ex-USAF officer from consulting firm Guidehouse sues ex-boss for alleged sexual harassment

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A retired US Air Force officer who worked at a consulting firm with more than $100 million in federal government contracts has filed a lawsuit, alleging in court documents and an interview that his boss cheated him. abused while entertaining patrons at nightclubs in the district.

Kyle Reinhardt, who retired as a lieutenant colonel, accused Kim Cirka, a partner at Guidehouse, of presiding over “a freewheeling sexual culture” at the company, the complaint states. His lawsuit also offers insight into how federal consultants and other contractors woo government officials in hopes of getting a slice of Uncle Sam’s business.

The pleading – which was filed in DC Superior Court on February 2 – alleges that Cirka habitually harassed him, bothered his girlfriends and flirted and engaged in other unwanted sexual behavior at gatherings. social. During a night of heavy drinking, according to the lawsuit, his boss sexually assaulted him.

Whenever Reinhardt complained to Cirka about inappropriate behavior, she dismissed him, saying Reinhardt had to “play along” if he wanted to keep his job and advance at the company, according to the lawsuit.

After Reinhardt helped the company win a $110 million contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs, its importance to it diminished, Reinhardt said. This is also when she took revenge on him for rejecting his advances. Her lawsuit says she marginalized him, blocked his promotion as a partner, and ultimately kicked him out.

After his dismissal, Guidehouse — which was part of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ public sector operations when Reinhardt was hired — refused to pay contractual compensation, the complaint says.

Cirka has denied any allegations of wrongdoing. She said in a statement released through her attorney, Charles B. Molster III, that Reinhardt was a “disgruntled former employee who was fired for performance issues and is now trying to run a smear campaign.”

“Ms. Cirka is eager to clear her name when the true facts come out,” Molster said.

Kelly Langmesser, a spokeswoman for Guidehouse, said in an email that “an investigation into Mr. Reinhardt’s other allegations of alleged harassment from several years ago is still ongoing.”

Reinhardt said he felt trapped, embarrassed and yet unable to do anything about Cirka’s repeated abuse because he feared complaining would cost him his job.

“It was now like a part of a number of things that I parked in a locked box in my soul,” Reinhardt said in the interview. “I felt really awful. I also felt like the job I was passionate about was kind of in a very precarious place and it was an internal balancing act to not blow up what I had to have to be able to do this. work.

The defendants filed motions on April 1 asking the court to stay the legal proceedings and compel Reinhardt to submit to arbitration.

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The lawsuit represents a rare reversal of gender roles in sexual harassment cases. Men make up only about 3% of sexual harassment victims who seek help from TIME’s UP Legal Defense Fund, said Emily Martin, vice president for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center. But they are identified 91% of the time as bullies.

An estimated 1 in 7 federal employees experienced sexual harassment from 2016 to 2018, according to the US Civil Rights Commission’s “Federal #MeToo: Examining Sexual Harassment in Government Workplaces” report. The report examines the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s efforts to tackle sexual harassment and cites critics who say the country’s estimated 4.1 million contractors may not have the same protections. as federal employees when it comes to addressing workplace discrimination, such as sexual harassment.

But Martin also said employees of private companies doing work for the federal government could have more protections than other private companies, including additional regulatory oversight by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

She reported being sexually harassed by her supervisor at a federal contractor – and was fired shortly after

Reinhardt, who studied architecture at Yale and health and urban planning at Harvard, was a senior policy adviser to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, according to information provided in his complaint and an interview. After retiring from the military in 2012, he joined the public sector unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which later became Guidehouse, Inc. The trade journal Washington Technology mentioned when Guide generated $509 million in revenue and employed approximately 1,500 people.

At least once a month, Guidehouse hosted social events at venues such as Bistro Lepic, Martin’s Tavern, the St. Regis Hotel, and A Rake’s Progress at the LINE Hotel. Drinks were company-paid, with Cirka often coming in for Chateau Haut-Brion and other fine wines that cost more than $200 a bottle, Reinhardt said. The festivities sometimes continued with after-parties at Reinhardt’s apartment.

“Guidehouse had a culture of hard work, hard play,” the complaint states. “As a government contractor, his business relied on establishing and developing good relationships with the government and potential team partners – other government contractors who could serve as subcontractors to Guidehouse or vice versa . These relationships were greased by food and alcohol.

In ruthless and sometimes grim detail, the complaint identifies nearly a dozen people who allegedly attended Guidehouse parties and witnessed or participated in Cirka’s sexually inappropriate behavior, including Cirka’s twin sister, Kari; the ex-wife of a NASA astronaut; and various federal officials. Complaint also accuses former Cirka assistant Paul Bradley of having a romantic relationship with his boss and inappropriate touching one of Reinhardt’s former girlfriends after a night of partying.

Bradley, now a chief technology officer at another company, questioned attorney Paul Y. Kiyonaga, who called Reinhardt’s allegations “false, irresponsible and salacious.” Several other witnesses named in the complaint, including Cirka’s twin sister Kari and Reinhardt’s two former girlfriends, did not respond to emails and phone calls, or declined to comment.

Reinhardt’s complaint also says Cirka encouraged him to give “male attention” to Melissa Glynn, a former assistant secretary for corporate integration at VA, and to be receptive to any possible sexual overtures from her in hope of winning a VA contract. Glynn, who is now a director at EY-Parthenon, did not return phone calls or emails seeking comment.

Three witnesses identified in the trial said in interviews that they recalled attending Guidehouse social events with Cirka and Reinhardt, but only one said he observed inappropriate sexual behavior.

“I am aware of the night he is talking about but I did not witness any kind of behavior,” said Summer Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer and former spouse of astronaut Anne McClain who attended a dinner with Cirka, Reinhardt and others in April 2016.

D. Scott Guermonprez, former director of Northport VA Medical Center on Long Island, recalled thinking Cirka’s behavior toward Reinhardt seemed overwhelmed when Guermonprez joined them, along with Reinhardt’s girlfriend, at Buck’s Fishing and Camping in June 2017.

“I seemed surprised at the time, I guess, at the overly flirtatious way her boss was acting — that she drank quite a bit and seemed sort of obsessed with Kyle,” Guermonprez said in an interview.

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Against the backdrop of the alleged abuses was the stress of an ambitious, high-stakes workplace as Reinhardt’s team pursued multimillion-dollar federal contracts. The complaint says he earned excellent performance reviews, including a coveted “conquered” rating. His annual salary topped out at $325,000, his attorney said.

But as Reinhardt’s position weakened, he was cut off from key meetings and sent on the road for grueling 12-hour days and unpleasant nights in “low-cost motels” (including one with “stains of blood on the furniture”), according to his complaint. Two months after being placed on a performance enhancement plan, Reinhardt was fired in September 2021.

“I haven’t encountered a work environment quite like the one here,” said Samuel J. Buffone, Jr., Reinhardt’s attorney. “The world of government contracts can often have colorful workplaces, but what we see in stocks here is truly beyond pale.”

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, is before DC Superior Court Judge Maurice A. Ross.

Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Michael J. Chiaramonte