Probe finds 'inappropriate comments' in Naperville workplace

Updated 6/20/2014 3:27 PM

The city of Naperville has completed three internal investigations into employee behavior and determined complaints of a hostile work environment are partially substantiated, officials said Friday.

All city employees will have to undergo a four-hour diversity awareness training program by April 30, 2015, as a result of the finding that complaints of a hostile work environment had some merit, "specifically pertaining to some inappropriate comments," city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said.


The investigations were conducted in response to a former employee's complaints about harassment and discrimination that she filed May 2 as she was quitting her job in the city's human resources department. They probed whether employees in human resources -- or the city government as a whole -- were subjected to a hostile work environment, gender discrimination and retaliation.

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

The former employee's memo said she "tolerated a string of appalling excuses for HR leadership" during eight years with the city. It listed 12 complaints against unspecified employees in leadership positions, including name-calling, bullying, "disgusting commentary about women," ordering employees to disobey the city manager and discouraging women from seeking promotions.

LaCloche said all employees in leadership positions were questioned during the investigations, which concluded Friday.

"We're taking an aggressive stance toward diversity in the workforce training," LaCloche said. "A respectful workplace is of the utmost importance."

The city also has taken action to address two human resources supervisors and City Manager Doug Krieger, who were mentioned by name in the former employee's memo.

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The former employee wrote that the supervisors displayed "derogatory, degrading, demeaning and sometimes discriminatory behavior," and she accused Krieger of talking "about employees in less than respectful ways and not behind closed doors."

One of the supervisors resigned May 14 and is not eligible to be rehired. He had been hired Dec. 2, 2013, and was making a salary of $96,500 a year, according to personnel documents the Daily Herald received through the Freedom of Information Act.

The other supervisor received a one-day unpaid suspension for "inappropriate behavior," according to a disciplinary investigative summary in the employee's personnel file. He also is required to complete a one-day, off-site "respectful workplace/harassment training" by July 15.

The employee "needs to ensure his interactions with women and all employees in the workplace are professional and appropriate and in line with the city's policy against harassment," the document reads.

Krieger was "promptly and correctly" reprimanded for telling an "off-color" joke in January and was ordered to complete the diversity awareness training by the end of the year, according to an investigation completed earlier this month by attorney Terry Ekl.

LaCloche said the former employee who brought forward the complaints was contacted during the investigations and notified of their completion. The city will investigate any future complaints of harassment or inappropriate treatment and "we will take the appropriate actions," LaCloche said.

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