EEOC mediation, settlement sought

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lewisburg's city manager has agreed to mediation of a police detective's complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over alleged violations of the Civil Rights Act.

However, City Manager Eddie Fuller said on Wednesday that he's spoken with a representative of the EEOC about mediation and asked if there's another way to resolve the complaint since the subject of the complaint no longer works for the city.

"I felt like we had resolved the situation and he was going to call Detective (Santiago) Mcklean's attorney to discuss what I had told him and see if that was agreeable to her - to dismiss it," Fuller said.

Mcklean has said he will discuss the chain of events after they are resolved.

Mcklean complained to the EEOC on Aug. 3, alleging discrimination against his race, national origin, language and alleged he was "working in a hostile work environment." It's based on a letter from now former Police Detective Sgt. Jimmy Oliver's memo to Chief Chuck Forbis saying Mcklean's native language, Spanish, was a barrier to his productivity. Mcklean also alleged sexual harassment by Oliver who, in the close quarters of a jury box, asked McKlean if he wanted a dance, or to dance.

Mcklean is Panamanian and black. Oliver, who is white, was put on paid administrative leave for at least two days after the formal complaint was filed and while Mcklean's complaint was investigated. Subsequently, the sergeant was asked to resign and he did.

"The city manager investigated his complaint," Police Chief Chuck Forbis said of Mcklean's complaint to he EEOC. "The subject of his complaint is no longer employed by the city, so I believe that renders the complaint moot."

Oliver was placed on administrative leave because he and Mcklean "worked so close together.... We felt it would be better not to have anything that might lead to further complaints."

The EEOC complaint was addressed to Fuller.

"The police department's policy is to follow change of command," Forbis said.

The city personnel policy manual gives an employee the option of complaining to the

mayor, city manager, city attorney in addition to their supervisor and department head, Forbis said.

Last winter, Forbis endorsed a plan to transfer Mcklean from the detective division to street patrol. Stated reasons included Mcklean's lack of experience as a patrol officer.

Mcklean, 42, was hired in February 2007 by then-Chief Doug Alexander as a detective after McKlean worked for the La Vergne Police Department from October 2005, Forbis said in March. Because of police academy schedules and other training, Mcklean had worked four to five months as a patrol officer driving alone.

The incident between Mcklean and Oliver was on July 14, one week after a training class on work place etiquette. During that seminar, scheduled because of a separate incident that didn't involve Mcklean, city employees were advised to report instances that they believed to be unlawful conduct, and Mcklean did so. He chose to follow city policy and selected Fuller as the official to whom his complaint was delivered.

Fuller noted that agreement to mediate Mcklean's complaint came with a promise not to publicly discuss what was said during mediation. Since that hadn't started, he felt free to speak about the situation.

Mcklean's first mention of the incident with Oliver was a response to Fuller's question: "How are things going?" the city manager said.

Mcklean's reply included his mention of the incident in the jury box and the next week, Mcklean filed a written statement "Re: sexual harassment complaint."

On the Monday before Fuller received the EEOC complaint in the mail, Mcklean took a paid day off, the city manager said. The reason apparently included caring for his young child, but the city manage has said he'd be interested in knowing when Mcklean signed the EEOC complaint.

Prior to a deadline to respond, Fuller sent the EEOC a signed copy of an agreement to mediate Mcklean's complaint. Subsequently, learned that a date for that discussion might be set for a time in late September.

"But late Tuesday another representative for EEOC called and in our conversation I said 'I felt like we had resolved the situation,' and he was going to call Detective Mcklean's attorney to discuss what I had told him and see if that was agreeable to her, to dismiss it," Fuller said.