Naperville’s HR probe lays little new blame

<p>File Photo</p>
File Photo

Naperville has wrapped up its in-house inquiry into allegations that members of the city’s upper management made sexually crude remarks and engaged in other unacceptable behaviors on the job. Little additional revelation came from the three-pronged investigation.

City spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said separate investigations were conducted by members of the Legal Department. All three stemmed from allegations contained in a May 2 memo to the City Council and Mayor A. George Pradel that served as the resignation notice from an eight-year employee of the Human Resources Department.

The departing employee leveled an array of charges, among them a hostile work environment, gender-based discrimination, and retaliation against the employee for meeting with City Manager Doug Krieger to discuss the employee’s workplace concerns. The memo also alleges that some managers have smoked marijuana while attending conferences and conducted their own business while on the city clock.

The gender discrimination and retaliation complaints were found to be unsubstantiated, LaCloche said.

“For the hostile work environment, some of the allegations have been substantiated but only those pertaining to comments that were made,” LaCloche said.

One of the two department leaders named in the memo signed a separation agreement May 28, two weeks after Krieger and Assistant City Manager Marcie Schatz put their signatures to the document. The other — described in the memo as “a man who openly ogles women and who has no filter on his mouth” — has been assigned to different duties but remains on the city payroll.

Krieger also was accused in the memo of “making racially offensive comments” with the former HR executive who still works for the city. An outside investigation conducted by Terry Ekl, a partner in the Lisle firm Ekl, Williams & Provenzale LLC, confirmed that Krieger told an off-color joke, and reported that an investigation of the incident took place in January, culminating in a verbal reprimand for the administrator. Krieger also was ordered to undergo the city’s harassment prevention and diversity awareness training before the end of this year.

All other city employees will be required to complete the training by April 2015 as well, LaCloche said.

“A respectful workplace is of the utmost importance to us as an organization here,” she said.

The parting accord for the employee who resigned, obtained by The Sun through the Freedom of Information Act, provided four weeks severance at $46.39 an hour and stipulated that the city would not contest any unemployment claim for benefits filed by the former staff member.

Other terms of the agreement forbid Krieger, Schatz and “city officials who were privy to the circumstances surrounding (the employee’s) separation” from discussing the case. The separation contract also specified that if a prospective employer inquires about the individual, only “neutral” reference details will be provided, not the reasons for the individual’s departure.

LaCloche said the city dealt with the situation appropriately.

“This really raises awareness of the value of our employees reporting any bullying or comments or concerns immediately,” she said. “There were a lot of very serious allegations in this memo, so we did our due diligence in launching these investigations.”

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