Chief Equity Officer was subject of hostile work complaint prior to resigning from the city

Zan Gibbs was one of City Manager Erik Walsh’s first appointments

Zan Gibbs, former city of San Antonio Chief Equity Officer (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – The city’s chief equity officer submitted her resignation earlier this year while being investigated for a hostile work environment complaint, records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders show.

Zan Gibbs informed city officials in early August that she intended to step down, before formally separating from the city in early September, city Human Resources records confirm.

Weeks earlier, in mid-June, an equity manager serving under Gibbs claimed via email that Gibbs targeted him with micro aggressions and made him uncomfortable at work.

The email, which was sent to both Gibbs and the Office of Equity’s main email address, stated: “I feel constantly betrayed and under constant attack, continue to make me question my role, my value, and my participation on this team, and I have no idea if you understand how negatively your words and actions are received and the impact they have on me particularly. The impact of these types of microaggressions taken in totality make me very uncomfortable in this work environment and afraid for my job. It feels increasingly hostile. I now feel uncomfortable in meetings, uncomfortable expressing anything for fear of retaliation and the threat of insubordination, uncomfortable with the feeling that my boss is trying to build a case against me. Unfortunately, too many employees of color are saying the same thing I am, and feel the same way throughout COSA (City of San Antonio).”

The complaint was later provided to Human Resources, which investigated it as a discrimination and hostile work environment complaint.

HR officials determined Sept. 1 that the employee’s allegations were partially corroborated, but were not racially discriminatory, records show.

Gibbs, who had worked for the city since 2018, was promoted to Chief Equity Officer by City Manager Erik Walsh shortly after he assumed the position in March 2019.

Gibbs had been at the forefront of a number of city equity and inclusion efforts, including a 2020 resolution passed by city council that declared racism a public health crisis.

“We are here for systemic change and not just for check-the-box exercises,” Gibbs said while presenting the resolution to council members.

Asked by the Defenders via Facebook if Gibbs would be releasing a statement on stepping down, Gibbs replied, “One wasn’t necessary as it was always my plan to build out great work and hand it over. Texas wasn’t home and I knew I would need to move for family reasons. Working there was amazing, and the City Manager threw a wonderful party for me and gave me an nice plaque.”

Gibbs did not respond to follow up inquiries about the HR complaint specifically.

City officials last week told the Defenders there were no records related to HR complaints against Gibbs. Officials then reopened the request and stated they now believed there were records related to the request.

Asked by the Defenders for a statement from Walsh, a city spokeswoman instead released a statement from Assistant City Manager David McCary, who oversaw the Office of Equity:

“Zan left the City of San Antonio for professional and personal reasons. We clearly made significant inroads during her leadership of the Equity Office. We thank her for her service to San Antonio and continue to wish her well on her future endeavors.”

The spokeswoman confirmed that Jonathan Malagon was named Interim Chief Equity Officer, but that the office has since been consolidated with other city functions to form the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Department.

Nicholas “Nick” Dominguez was appointed last month to serve as interim director of this new department, which “unifies the City’s focus on access, diversity, equity and inclusion.”

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.