Why We Need A Workplace Bullying Law (Part II)

When Pima County Sheriff’s Sergeant Kevin Kubitskey filed a complaint against Sheriff Chris Nanos in early 2016, the County’s workplace bullying policy had been in effect for three years.  Through investigations and training, County employees and managers began to monitor employee behavior through the lens of the policy, and the County’s workplace culture benefited from the change.  Cases brought under the policy quickly came to dominate the Human Resources investigative docket, validating the unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors to adopt it.  Unfortunately, since the policy is not fortified by state law, there is no requirement for public accountability.  That flaw was illustrated in the case against Sheriff Nanos, who had been appointed to the position when his predecessor retired and was running for election in 2016.

When Sgt. Kubitskey submitted a series of incidents in support of his claim I was assigned to investigate his allegations.  Pima County’s workplace bullying policy defines bullying as “intentional behavior with the purpose of creating an abusive work environment.”  Sheriff Nanos not only provoked and humiliated Sgt. Kubitskey (in front of a witness), he also confronted and embarrassed him in an incident in the Sheriff’s Department cafeteria and personally attacked him in an email message delivered to the entire Department staff.  The Sheriff admitted many of the facts alleged against him when I interviewed him, as well as in an interview with Tucson Police.  I concluded that “There is sufficient evidence to substantiate that Sgt. Kubitskey was a victim of workplace bullying as defined by Board of Supervisors Policy D 23.1.”  It was not a close call and my two immediate supervisors concurred and referred the report to the chain of command.  The Director of Human Resources agreed that the facts supported the finding of bullying, but suggested the Policy did not apply for technical reasons.  The report was hand-delivered to Deputy County Administrator Tom Burke on July 28th.

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