Mound City Hall

The city of Mound is addressing concerns around its harassment policy.

MOUND — The city of Mound is reviewing its personnel policies to address concerns over what’s been called “ambiguous” language in the city’s harassment policies.

The city of Mound has various personnel policies in place, but not under a formal code of conduct for city employees, City Manager Eric Hoversten said during the Aug. 13 Mound City Council meeting. That was set to change at the meeting, but the personnel policies/code of conduct item was pulled from the consent agenda after City Council member Paula Larson requested additional discussion on the topic because she had “a lot of questions.”

Consent agenda items are considered routine and all items on the agenda are typically enacted by a single roll call vote without discussion unless a City Council member or citizen requests one. At the Aug. 13 meeting, the proposed personnel policy/code of conduct item was removed from the consent agenda and, after some discussion, the City Council voted to send the policy back to city staff to be reworked.

During the discussion, Larson questioned wording in the proposed code of conduct, calling some statements in the policy “extremely ambiguous.” She requested policy language be tightened up and very specific, especially related to time limits for reporting harassment incidents.

She called this a “golden opportunity” to get the code of conduct policy right, noting the Minnesota Legislature recently tweaked some of the language in its harassment policy, which went into effect on Aug. 1, Larson said.

City Council member Sherrie Pugh also requested staff include in the policy language that explains training for City Council members and city staff.

City staff is reworking the language of the policy to address concerns of a specific City Council member in regards to harassment language within the policy, Hoversten told Lakeshore Weekly News. City staff met with the Council member and are working with the League of Minnesota Cities and legal consultants to adjust policy language to address their concerns.

Once the policy is re-drafted it will be brought back to the City Council. Currently, there is no set date as to when the City Council will see the new policy, Hoversten said.

Current policy

The city of Mound has a long-standing policy on harassment that every employee is trained on when they are on-boarded, Hoversten said. This policy is still in effect as the city works to amend the harassment policy.

The proposed changes to the policy will likely not change the definitions or reporting and response procedures within the harassment policy, but will add more definition and detail to the procedural language, Hoversten said.

Lakeshore Weekly News reached out to Larson for additional comment on this story. She referred the paper to Hoversten for comment. Hoversten said Mound City Council members were told they could refer any media questions on sensitive topics to city staff.

Frances Stevenson is a reporter for the Lakeshore Weekly News, covering the communities around Lake Minnetonka.

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