One Year After Launching Review of City’s Harassment and Discrimination Policies, Mayor Durkan Announces City of Seattle’s First-Ever Citywide Workplace Values and Expectations and Director of HR Investigations Unit

SEATTLE (January 29, 2019) – One year after announcing the formation of the Anti-Harassment Interdepartmental Team (IDT) to conduct an extensive review of the City’s harassment and discrimination policies, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, and members of the IDT today announce the City of Seattle’s first-ever Citywide Workplace Values and Expectations and the new Director of a Human Resources Investigations Unit.

“Too many in our workforce have endured harassment, discrimination, or other forms of misconduct here at the City of Seattle. The recommendations from the IDT and results of the 2018 Race and Social Justice Survey confirmed the feedback I had already received from many City employees: We must do better,” said Mayor Durkan. “Now we are taking important steps based on the IDT’s work over the past year. Our actions include creating the Office of the Employee Ombud, a new centralized Investigations Unit, and our first-ever Citywide Workplace Values and Expectations. While there is no doubt we have more work to do, I am proud of the historic and meaningful efforts we’ve taken over the past year to make our City workplace better.”

“As a city, we’ve made an important commitment—to build a safe and inclusive working environment for each and every one of our employees. The City’s values of racial equity, social justice, inclusion, learning, accountability, and stewardship, should not only be listed on paper––we need to live our values and they need to be reflected in our policies and practices,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. “I know that with continued focus, the City can become a leading example of how large organizations can be radically transformed for the better through effective harassment and discrimination policies that create a workplace environment that is safe for all employees.”

“Over the past year, the City of Seattle has made significant movement to ensure City employees are met with respect, fairness, and opportunity at their workplace,” said Mary Keefe, Business Agent at Teamsters Local 763 and member of the IDT. “Going forward, I am confident that the City will continue to center the voices and rights of their workers, and reduce harm caused by outdated and insufficient harassment and discrimination policies. I am grateful to Mayor Durkan and Councilmember Mosqueda for their leadership, and to my fellow members of the IDT for their visionary work.”

In an email to all City employees today, Mayor Durkan announced the City of Seattle’s first-ever Citywide Workplace Values and Expectations. These will be the City’s guiding principles going forward and will be incorporated into all trainings and new employee orientations.

“I am not under any false impressions that real transformational change to the work culture within the City of Seattle will happen overnight. We are starting from scratch, and working decades behind the societal norms of today,” said Tia Jones, City of Seattle employee and member of the IDT. “I heard once ‘culture eats policy for lunch,’ so with that in mind, it’s about time that we have a policy that will help protect employees and explicitly states how we at the City of Seattle shall conduct ourselves and our expectations of each other. The implication, accountability, and accessibility of this document will define the willingness of the institution to see the change and act accordingly.”

In addition, Mayor Durkan has hired Steven Zwerin to serve as the first-ever Division Director of the centralized Human Resources Investigative Unit. For nearly two decades, Zwerin has advised employers as an attorney, investigations manager, trainer, and educator on the recurring themes that lead to employee dissatisfaction. Most recently, Zwerin led a highly regarded King County program that investigated allegations of workplace misconduct. Zwerin’s first day at the City will be February 6.

The Workplace Values and Expectations and the centralized Investigations Unit were part of the Mayor’s Executive Order to update the City’s harassment and discrimination policies.