City manager’s conduct examined

Rick Finn, Watertown city manager, gives opening remarks at the 2019 Annual Membership Meeting of the Watertown Downtown Business Association on Tuesday in Watertown. Julia Hopkins/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — An independent human resources consultant will begin an investigation next week into a formal complaint against City Manager Rick Finn that accuses him of causing a hostile work environment.

A female department head filed the complaint last week to City Attorney Robert J. Slye and the city’s human resources department.

Mr. Slye said Tuesday night that Public Sector HR Consultants, Glenville, will conduct interviews with witnesses and examine documents provided to the firm before determining the facts in the case and making a recommendation to the City Council.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler expects the probe will be completed before he leaves office on Jan. 1.

“We want it to be fair for all parties,” he said.

Before a work session began on Tuesday night, council members had a brief executive session about the situation. Mr. Finn attended the closed-door meeting for a couple of minutes before he was seen exiting the meeting, while council members continued their discussion in the mayor’s office.

Mayor Butler would not comment about what was discussed during their meeting, citing confidentiality of a personnel matter.

The Watertown Daily Times has not confirmed the identity of the female employee who filed the complaint. She accused the city manager of causing “a hostile work environment,” Mr. Slye confirmed.

The 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.

Mr. Slye contacted Public Sector HR Consultants to conduct the investigation, adding that the firm looked into a previous investigation into a potential disciplinary action involving a city official, and the city was satisfied with how it was handled.

The firm will use a process and policy spelled out in the city’s employee handbook that it had put together for the city, Mr. Slye 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.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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