Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson on Tuesday afternoon said he has issued a new administrative order regarding workplace professionalism, which is directly aimed at city councilmembers who “belittle, intimidate and humiliate” city employees.
According to a city news release, some staff members have experienced workplace interactions with city councilmembers that the employees have felt to be unprofessional, and that such interactions may have impacted employee productivity and job satisfaction. The mayor is intending for this order is to provide employees with a tool to bring such concerns forward to be addressed, the release said.
“I will not tolerate from councilmembers the bullying of our city employees,” Nelson said. “To belittle, intimidate, and humiliate the people who are dedicated to our city every waking hour, is unacceptable. Our city employees are our greatest asset and we should treat them as such.”
The order states: “If any employee has such an interaction with a member of the city council that may impact the work environment, they are asked to provide the human resources department with the information needed to effectively address and resolve the concerns raised to the extent possible.”
According to the city announcement, this reporting process supplements, but does not replace, procedures already outlined in the city personnel policies for reporting discrimination or harassment in the workplace. It is intended to be a resource to address workplace professionalism concerns that fall short of unlawful discrimination and harassment. All investigations and any subsequent actions taken will be available for disclosure to the public upon request.
“Employee well-being is paramount so our city can run efficiently and effectively. Our human resources department will investigate any bullying claims of staff and the results of investigations will be available for the public upon request. In fact, today, HR has already been contacted and are considering opening their first investigation.”
In response, Edmonds City Councill President Vivian Olson said it is unfortunate the mayor chose to issue the order, and a news release regarding it, to city staff and the news media prior to informing the city council.
“The council and the staff play important roles in building a cohesive city team, as does the mayor,” Olson said in an email. “It saddens me that the mayor doesn’t work with councilmember(s) directly to resolve any communications concerns, and further, that he distributes a policy naming council to staff and press without council engagement on (or even knowledge of) the policy.”