Jeffrey M. Smith. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Mayor-elect Jeffrey M. Smith said he had no idea that a female employee had lodged a formal complaint against City Manager Rick Finn that accused Mr. Finn of causing a hostile work environment.

The female department filed the complaint to City Attorney Robert J. Slye and the city’s human resources department.

“It’s up to the current City Council to take care of,” Mr. Smith said Friday.

The city has contacted an independent human resources consultant, Public Sector HR Consultants, Glenville, to conduct the investigation.

Council members have not released the identity of the employee.

Contacted Friday, Mr. Finn had no comment, citing “it’s a personnel matter.”

He expressed frustration that the situation has become public, noting that the city is supposed to follow a process now that a complaint has been filed.

“It’s supposed to be confidential,” he said. “I’m going to honor the process. Why it’s out there? I don’t know.”

The Watertown Daily Times has learned that the department head submitted reports of a series of incidents involving Mr. Finn and witnesses who could verify the alleged occurrences.

It’s unclear when the investigation will begin, exactly what it entails and how long it will take to complete.

Council members said they will take steps so that the employee who filed the complaint won’t be retaliated against.

Council members have not seen the complaint, and may not do so until after the investigation is completed, Councilwoman Lisa Ruggiero said.

She thinks that the complaint is “gender-related.”

The formal complaint comes amid reports of other female city employees having similar informal complaints against him.

Mr. Smith hasn’t talked to Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. or council members about the situation. He suspects that he knows who filed the complaint but won’t reveal her name.

He intends to get briefed about the complaint when he meets Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. next week about a variety of other city issues.

The mayor-elect said he’s met Mr. Finn but has never had a lengthy discussion with him, so he doesn’t have an impression of him.

“I haven’t worked with him,” Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Finn replaced former City Manager Sharon A. Addison, whose contract was not renewed by council in January 2018. He is under contract with the city until July 2020, when council members could decide whether to renew it.

Mr. Finn was unanimously appointed to the position in July 2018 amid reports of complaints from employees and elected officials about his management style and the way he handled some issues in other communities he worked.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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