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Harassment allegations 'unfounded'
May 10, 2006 12:00 am
April 25, 2006 – Accusations of harassment filed against Mt. Juliet Public Works Director Hatton Wright were "unfounded," according to an internal investigation report released this week.
City officials confirmed the findings Monday and explained the city employee who filed the complaint – Stormwater Clerk Sandra Dempsey – was transferred to a similar position with the same pay in the parks department. City Manager Rob Shearer said the transfer was in the "best interest of the city."
Dempsey filed the accusations against Wright on April 10, claiming he was "irrational and volatile" and created a "hostile work environment."
Shearer informed both parties of the results Monday as the conclusion to a weeklong probe by MJPD Lt. Michael Mullins, which included interviews with 19 current and former employees.
"Lt. Mullins investigated the complaint and found it to be unfounded," Shearer said Monday afternoon. "Clearly, the complaint reveals she was not happy in her position and there was a definite personality conflict.
"We take allegations of harassment seriously," he continued. "The personnel manual spells out how allegations should be treated, and we did things according to the manual."
In his 10-page report, Mullins explained he found the investigation difficult because many allegations were "subjective" in nature.
" … If there is a sexist environment it is very difficult to discover," Mullins' report said.
And while several people interviewed described Wright's behavior as "stern," "tense" and even "explosive," others disagreed.
" … Multiple employees find Mr. Wright's communication skills and management style to be offensive in nature," the investigation report said. "I believe … Mr. Wright is aware of due to his statement that the way he talks may be interpreted as abusive but does not mean to be and he may be intimidating but it is not intentional. Of these individuals many believe that with minor corrective measures this situation can be taken care of."
When contacted, Dempsey stated she was not "happy with the decision."
"But, I don't regret filing the complaint," Dempsey said. "I'm trying to absorb it all now. It's been hard on everyone, and I thank Lt. Mullins for his thorough investigation."
She said she plans to give her "opportunity in the Park's Department a try."
Dempsey claimed she could not accept the "continued harassment and conditions that are being forced on me in my work place by Mr. Wright." She alleged Wright's conduct to be "unethical" and his behavior "irrational and volatile" and she felt "concerned" for her safety.
Shearer said Wright received no disciplinary action stemming from the complaint.
Mt. Juliet Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.