Ever since the city manager put out a notice of a closed session regarding the complaint from herself regarding workplace harassment, it seems that most people have concluded that George Weiss was a part of this because of the wording on the notice. First of all, no one can just say they were harassed. Where is this proof? Was it shared in a closed session? If it was, were the correct actions taken? The fact the city manager received a large pension and retirement package does not convince me that there was workplace harassment. If there was, we would have heard about it long before the agreement was made to “allow her to leave.”
I think the city council harassed George Weiss with the closed-session announcement. It was vague but posted on the city’s site so we’d see it. If it was a true harassment case, they would never put that where the public could see it because that continues the harassment. It brings the public in, which is happening now. George is getting harassed daily. There are procedures for dealing with workplace harassment. Announcing it in a closed session isn’t how it should have been handled.
First, the city isn’t obligated to honor any request made by the complainant, but if there are reasonable steps such as a short stress leave or removal of the complainant from a job duty that requires direct contact with the elected official, those options should be considered. Second, speak with the councilmember. It’s often more effective if the city attorney speaks with the councilmember alone to explain candidly the city’s potential liability without causing embarrassment to the councilmember. The key points to convey are:
- The nature of the allegations.
- The city’s legal obligation to investigate the allegations.
- Advice to cease contact with the complainant, to the extent possible, and not to take any action that could possibly be perceived as retaliatory.
Third, initiate an investigation by a third-party investigator. Investigating allegations against an elected official should follow regular city policy, except the elected official cannot be compelled to participate. An investigation report should be prepared, and the results should be shared first with the councilmember and then with the full city council. In most situations, sharing the report with the city manager would also be appropriate. 4. If the investigator sustains the allegations, the city attorney or city manager should explain to the councilmember why such conduct puts the city at risk and may put the councilmember at risk, too. 5. If the allegations are sustained, the complainant’s supervisor, in consultation with the city manager, should determine what can be done to protect the complainant from future harassing conduct. The complainant’s input should be sought, and no action taken to protect them should appear punitive. For example, alteration of job duties may be considered, but only if the complainant wants that to occur.
The fact that they offered the city manager a package to leave tells me she is at fault for something and used the harassment threat to get this package, knowing she would lose her job for something other than what the closed session wants us all to believe. I find this more harassing and damaging than anything Mr. Weiss has done to the city manager. Think about it. Who writes and puts up the agenda? She knew what she was doing.
Liza Stewart, Laguna Beach.