July 17, 2021
By Jessica Mathews / [email protected]
Howell City Council recently met and approved an update to its policy on discrimination and harassment.
Council unanimously approved a motion to adopt changes to the 2013 City Personnel Policy Manual regarding non-discrimination and harassment reporting. Mayor Nick Proctor again congratulated City Manager Erv Suida and Director of Human Resources Jamie Helman for the updates.
A memo states that the City’s philosophy and policy has long been that any unlawful discrimination against an employee or candidate based on a variety of factors will not be allowed or tolerated. These include race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, height, weight, arrest record, veteran, marital status or other factors prohibited by law.
The changes were recommended to improve an employee’s ability to report such violations if they occur.
The policy changes were sparked by the resignation of former chief executive Paul DeBuff in May. Suida was the former director of DPS and had been acting city director for the year before DeBuff was hired. No information has been released as to what led to DeBuff’s departure other than the initial statement that he had lost the trust of city staff after “implementing a very rapid succession of changes.”
Following the resignation, Proctor requested Council support to “hopefully avoid a recurrence of recent inconvenience” with a review of the city’s whistleblower policies. At the time, Proctor said he hoped this would prevent a future mayor and a future council from being caught off guard. He noted that staff were required to work through the City’s organizational structure and not come to Council with concerns – which Proctor said presented a problem with what had been seen and the concerns of the staff presented. This led to a staff review of whistleblower policies and proposed changes to clearly spell out how to report issues.
The changes take effect immediately after Board approval.