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Report: Seattle’s HR department in dire need of repair

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Does the Seattle Department of Human Resources Department need its own HR department?

The plane ride we’re on isn’t bad as it sounds

Everybody knows what the HR department is supposed to do. Human Resources should ensure that you have a safe working environment, free from sexual harassment.

But what happens when the HR department itself has problems of its own?

That, apparently, has been the case for the City of Seattle, according Crosscut’s David Kroman, who reports that councilmember Kshama Sawant has showed interest in a new office to address complaints.

“There’s some confusion among employees about whether the HR department is there to represent employees or there to represent the city and prevent the city from experiencing liability,” he told Seattle’s Morning News.

Some employees have found that when they file complaints, the department is more interested in protecting the city than actually investigating their claims. Essentially, the HR department is, at least in some cases, reportedly acting more like a buffer than an advocate.

“That’s the perception among employees who feel their complaints are not going answered.”

According to Kroman, when Mayor Jenny Durkan took office she asked for an overview of the HR department. What she found was that nobody really knew how well the department was enforcing policy and procedures; She had no idea how many sexual harassment complaints had been settled, for example.

And it’s not just sexual harassment issues reportedly plaguing city government. It’s all kinds of harassment, according to Kroman. He’s been told stories of bullying and discrimination.

In December, Susan Coskey, the former director of the Seattle Department of Human Resources, resigned. Melissa Beatty began serving as acting director on Jan. 3. Though it was framed as a mutual decision, Kroman says, “It’s hard to totally see that as being actually a mutual decision.”

Kroman says harassment within some departments is as bad as ever.

Listen to the entire conversation here.

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