Chicago Parks Disciplines 42 Employees Over Harassment

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The Chicago Park District Beaches and Pools Unit has disciplined dozens of employees, including nine who are tied to an investigation into possible sexual misconduct.

Parks CEO Michael Kelly announced Monday that affected employees include two high-level managers — the assistant director of recreation and the beaches and pools manager. Both have been placed on emergency suspension without pay while the district awaits the outcome of an investigation. 

Fully 42 employees have been disciplined already.

According to the district, two employees have already been terminated and six have resigned. All eight of those employees have been placed on the do-not-hire list. Another 18 workers received written reprimands, nine were suspended, and seven remain on suspension through the completion of the investigation.

The district said it needs to “eradicate the culture of misconduct that has long existed within the aquatics department.” Kelly told the Chicago Tribune that the district is establishing an Office of Protection, which he believes to be the first of its kind for an American parks district.

“In order to facilitate culture change, it is imperative that I root out anyone who uses their position to prey on others or turns a blind eye to this despicable behavior,” Kelly said.

The Office of Protection will open in January and will be “an intake point for verification, assessment and assignment of complaints and concerns related to harassment, bullying and workplace hostilities.”

Kelly said that 1,700 district employees so far have undergone sexual harassment prevention. Kelly noted that a lot of the “bad behavior” was seen off-site.

Details of the investigation have not been released.

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