Former Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn has filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission accusing the city and City Administrator Corri Spiegel of harassment, sexual harassment and termination, with age and gender believed to be factors.
Washburn filed the complaint Feb. 8, 2018.
Washburn was terminated by Spiegel on July 27, 2017, three days after being placed on administrative leave. She appealed to the city Civil Service Commission on the grounds she was entitled to a job in the department commensurate with her civil service status. The commission ruled in her favor, a decision the city appealed to Scott County District Court. That case is pending.
In the complaint filed with the state commission, or ICRC, Washburns alleges Spiegel “[...] created (a) hostile work environment beginning in mid-2016 to July 2017" which included:
- Consistently ignoring or subjecting Washburn to the silent treatment, and diminishing her in front of peers and elected officials.
- Discussing her job performance with Washburn's subordinates.
- Discussing departmental concerns with Washburn's male subordinates.
- Assigning Washburn's job duties to others, including to Spiegel's assistant, who is 30 years younger than Washburn.
- Making false accusations against her.
“I had a clean personnel file with no concerns or discipline noted during my 5+ years of employment," Washburn wrote in the complaint.
Spiegel did not respond to request for comment on the matter.
The document also outlines a formal city complaint of bullying that Washburn made against Spiegel on July 24, 2017, the day Washburn was placed on administrative leave.
A month before, Spiegel had told Washburn she would not be part of the fire department's future during what was going to be a work plan review session. Washburn wrote that exit negotiations took place until her attorney notified the city that she would not sign the last agreement it proposed.
“Negotiations took place over the next month that were not acceptable to me,” Washburn wrote in the civil rights complaint. “I felt bullied into the unacceptable agreement.
“As the culmination of bullying, I submitted a complaint against the (city administrator), dated July 20, 2017, to the Human Resources Director on July 24, 2017. I informed my attorney, who then notified the City, that I could not sign the agreement. One hour after being informed, the (city administrator) placed me on administrative leave.”
Sexual harassment allegation
Washburn wrote in the civil rights complaint that the sexual harassment incident was reported to both the Davenport Police Department and the Human Resources Department in January 2017, after pornographic items were sent to her office at the end of 2016.
The only update she received came on Jan. 25, 2017, when police Lt. Greg Behning sent her and then-Fire Marshal Mike Hayman an email that said the “Next move is to subpoena the two companies the business uses to sell and fulfill orders in order to get information on who/where to subpoena for the actual sales records.”
She alleges Spiegel and City Attorney Tom Warner were formally told of the incident during a meeting held March 13, 2017.
“After this meeting, I was never informed of any further investigation or result. On November 14, 2017, I asked the designated City administrative person to investigate such incidents (Equity and Inclusion Manager) what his investigation found but he stated he was never informed of the incident.”
After the Sept. 13, 2017, Civil Service Commission meeting, Washburn asked police Capt. Jane Imming in front of the Quad-City Times for information about her complaint. Imming advised Washburn to file a records request with records bureau supervisor Lyndsey Seifert.
Washburn submitted a request to the Police Department for documents related to the incident, but the search did not return any results.
“I did not receive the documents so I submitted a second request on December 11, 2017," she wrote. “The Police Chief stated to me on that day that the documents had been given to City Legal after my first request. I still have not received the documents.”
The Davenport Police Department confirmed to the Quad-City Times that a complaint was lodged, but declined to comment on its status.
“This specific incident was a request by the Fire Department to investigate a complaint as an internal affairs investigation,” Maj. Jeff Bladel wrote in an email to the Quad-City Times. “Internal Affairs records are confidential records under Iowa Law. Only the complainant is entitled to receive notification of the result of the investigation.”