Mayor Sara Teasdale, well known as a liberal democrat, has always championed women's causes. But is she a hypocrite? She has been a tireless speaker at
civic clubs, urging the male-dominated business community to be sensitive to issues of sexual harassment in the workplace. It seems, however, that when it is
her own workplace she has a different standard.
Marianne Moore, an attractive secretary for the city, recently filed a complaint against her boss, Director of Human Re-sources Will Hunt. Hunt had chased her around a hotel room, and then retaliated against her when she spurned him.
The complaint went to the desk of Deputy Mayor James Riley, and there it languishes. The talk around city hall is that the mayor herself ordered Jim Riley to stonewall the com-plaint. Although filed over a month ago, no action has been taken to begin an investigation.
According to Ms. Moore, the trouble began when Hunt's wife left him in February. After that, he began to make sexual advances toward Marianne.
Hunt told Marianne that if she went to an overnight conference on Human Resources management, he would recommend her for a promotion. When she went to that conference, who should show up at her hotel room at 10:00 p.m? Hunt, of course. He pushed his way in, grabbed her, and asked for sex. When she refused, he told her that she would lose the promotion unless she were "friendlier." Marianne screamed and he left the room.
Guess what? Three days later, Hunt gave Marianne a bad performance review. Remember that only the week before, he offered her a promotion.
Marianne then went to see Deputy Mayor Jim Riley. Re-member his famous "I'm a feminist, too" statement from the 1995 campaign? She told him what had happened, and he said he would take care of it. He took care of it alright -- buried it in a stone wall.
Jim Riley defends his inaction. He said that the city's official policy was to proceed slowly on complaints like these. "This is what we have always done," said Riley. "There have been a number of harassment complaints made in the last two years, and we have been able to resolve them all quietly by letting the departments work them out themselves." When asked if any prior complaints against Hunt were among the "number of complaints" he referred to, Riley declined to comment further. "All I can say is that unless a complaint is serious, it's better to let city departments work out their own petty problems than for the mayor to get involved."
Professor Julia Ward Howe who teaches employment law at the School of Law thought that the city policy of delay was unwise and did not comply with federal law. "The federal statutes require these complaints to be acted upon by a supervisor's superior. It does not comply with federal law to let a department head resolve a sexual harassment complaint against himself."
City Attorney Wallace Stevens declined to comment. Calls to Mayor Teasdale were not returned.