Carmel Discuss Harassment-Prevention Policies
January 28, 2011
The Carmel City Council plans to discuss a brand-new harassment prevention policy at its Feb. 1 meeting.
The matter arose after the city settled a sexual harassment and age discrimination lawsuit filed by its former Human Resources Manager Jane Miller for more than $600,000 last summer.
Court papers and other documents released in the wake of the settlement showed that City Administrator Rich Guillen had barraged Miller with unwanted attention, including a slew of endearment-laden emails in which he referred to her as "hottie", "beautiful", and "blond worker bee".
After Miller complained about the harassment in a long letter to the city council, Guillen, the alleged harasser, responded to her letter, a move that was criticized by Miller's attorney because he said that it left Miller without an impartial third party to whom she could turn to resolve her issues.
At the time of Miller's complaint, the city's harassment policy specified that the council's personnel committee would handle such complaints, but no such committee existed.
The city's current proposal aims to solve some of the problems highlighted by the Miller case, including long delays by the city handling it. Additionally, some observers criticized the mayor and city council for failing to place Guillen on administrative leave while the allegations against him were supposed to have been investigated.
The new policy specifies that investigations of complaints must start no later than 10 days from the date a complaint is made, and states that the city may place employees on administrative leave while harassment allegations are investigated.
One potential flaw in the new proposal the council might discuss: The city's personnel officer is charged with receiving harassment complaints, but the city has no personnel officer; it has not hired a replacement for Miller since she left her job in 2009.