Hartford Public Works Employees File Complaints Of Harassment, Bullying

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Eight employees from Hartford’s Department of Public works have lodged complaints against the superiors.

The complaints were filed with the City of Hartford Office of Corporation Counsel through an internal EEO Complaint Application Process.

FOX CT obtained all of the complaints through a Freedom of Information Act request.

FOX CT first reported that the City of Hartford hired a private attorney to defend against EEO Complaints last month.

It’s relevant to taxpayers on many levels, but particularly because the City is paying the outside attorney hundreds of dollars per hour, to defend against the complaints.

The paperwork is 400 pages of documents spelling out the details of the official EEO complaints and for most of the employees, the accusation is the same: allegations that supervisors oversaw a “hostile work environment”.

“As a councilman of the city I cannot tolerate any situation that’s discriminatory or any kind of hostile work environment”, said Hartford City Councilamn David MacDonald.

MacDonald calls the alleged behavior unacceptable.

“It’s inappropriate in this day and age and we shouldn’t have these kind of problems cropping up”.

Last month FOX CT reported that the city hired Attorney George Springer to defend against lawsuits coming from these complaints.

Three of the employees name former DPW Director Kevin Burnham and Deputy Director Rhonda Moniz-Carroll by name, accusing them of race-based discrimination and retaliation.

Other employees say they were “threatened”, “harassed by senior DPW staff”, “Picked on and bullied”.

Moniz-Carroll meanwhile, was recently fired after police said she injured someone after crashing a city vehicle while driving drunk and Burnham resigned last week at Mayor Pedro Segarra’s request.

Segarra was made aware of several problems in March 2013, according to one of the employee complaint filings.

His administration is now calling the complaints “unsubstantiated”, meaning they haven’t yet been proven true.

We caught up with the Mayor Tuesday night, to ask him if the widespread discrimination complaints played a factor in his decision to ask former Department Director, Kevin Burnham, to resign.

Berman: “We need to ask you about the department of public works very important..”

Mayor: “It’s very important but you need to understand that…. what is your question?”

Berman: “The question is, how much did the discrimination complaints play into the resignation of… (Kevin Burnham)”.

Mayor: “It was not a factor and you’ve been told that multiple times by email and over the phone.”

Berman: “I haven’t been told that that wasn’t a factor…”

Mayor:  “Well that’s my response.”

Segarra added that the complaints are being reviewed by the corporation counsel’s office and that the City will defend those actions depending on whether they are meritful (sic).

One complaint was reported to the State’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) and is being actively defend by the City, according to the Mayor’s spokeswoman, Maribel La Luz.

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