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Youngstown reaches settlement with Hughes in harassment case



Published: Wed, June 4, 2014 @ 12:08 a.m.

Details to be disclosed after council vote in case involving Hughes, Kitchen

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The city and an employee found to have been sexually harassed on the job have reached a settlement agreement.

City council will vote today on an ordinance to pay its $50,000 deductible to HCC Public Risk Claim Service, the city’s insurance company, to resolve a complaint filed by Lyndsey Hughes, downtown director of events, special projects and marketing.

City officials declined to provide details of the settlement Tuesday to The Vindicator, saying the information would be made available after council’s vote.

Attempts by The Vindicator on Tuesday to reach Hughes and her two attorneys were unsuccessful.

The two sides have spent several months resolving the matter.

With the city having to pay a $50,000 deductible to its insurance company, the settlement amount with Hughes is obviously higher.

The settlement also includes what will happen with Hughes’ future as a city employee.

Hughes is unlikely to return to the director’s job under the jurisdiction of city council. Other options would be to report to Mayor John A. McNally or for her to resign.

Also, if Hughes does resign, the issue of who would control that position — council or the mayor — would need to be resolved.

Hughes has been off work since March 28, invoking the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows her to use sick and vacation time she has accrued and still get paid. It isn’t known if all that time has been used.

“The matter is resolved to the parties’ mutual satisfaction,” said city Law Director Martin Hume.

All that’s left is city council approval, he said.

The Hughes settlement ordinance, sponsored by McNally, states she filed a claim with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

The claim never made it to a court. Instead, the two sides negotiated with a mediator.

The settlement was brought to council two weeks ago as a late item, but was removed from the agenda. No explanation for that was given.

A Dec. 6 report conducted on behalf of the city concluded that DeMaine Kitchen — a former chief of staff/secretary to the former mayor, Charles Sammarone, and also a former city councilman — sexually harassed Hughes.

That report included an admission from Kitchen, a failed 2013 mayoral candidate, that he made inappropriate and flirtatious remarks to Hughes both verbally and through text messages. But Kitchen is quoted in the report as saying the comments weren’t “threatening or serious.”

The report didn’t investigate allegations by Hughes that Kitchen physically harassed her.

Even though the results came after the November 2013 mayoral election, the investigation was a major issue in the race that saw McNally, a Democrat, defeat Kitchen, who ran as an independent.

Kitchen resigned as chief of staff/secretary to the mayor Dec. 2, 2013, four days before the report was released. He has not responded to numerous attempts by this newspaper to comment on the investigation since his resignation.

Hughes told an investigator hired by the city that the harassment by Kitchen started in late 2009 when he was the 2nd Ward councilman, and was off and on until July 2013 when she had an attorney contact the law director about the behavior.


Comments

1bmanresident(597 comments)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

My Sammarone should have to reimburse the city for his incompetence. Seems he got a free pass in this whole mess. At least Lindsey got a nice big paycheck at tax payer expense.

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2severthis(42 comments)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Please please please do not keep her on the city's payroll. She is an immature and unsophisticated individual who is okay at organizing bar crawls but NOT the person the city needs to help promote the town in a way it deserves.

Surely, given her rate of pay, there is a qualified adult who can and will take on her responsibilities and actually fulfill them in an organized, thoughtful, creative, progressive, professional manner. Need I also add -- that won't be an embarrassment to Youngstown or him/herself?

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3johnyoung(241 comments)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Bmanresident is correct. The true cause for this settlement can be attributed to Sammarone and his incompetence in handling Ms. Hughes initial complaint when it was first brought to his attention. The lack of proper due process in accordance with the city's policy for handling workplace harassment complaints opened the door for this outcome.

For someone who touts himself as an expert manager and knower of all things city hall, Sammarone failed miserably in this instance and now the taxpayers must pay.

A responsible City Council would now pass legislation which demands restitution of the complete settlement amount jointly from Sammarone and Kitchen. But will they? No, the good ol' boy network continues, while the Vindicator continues to endorse idiots like Sammarone and the citizens continue to suffer.

Disgusting situation all the way around.

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4kensgirl(608 comments)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

De"Man" Kitchen was mainly responsible for what happened here. He is a low life to begin with and lied repeatedly until evidence was proven against him. Sammarone was negligient also in not doing anything once she complained. Men still don't get it. I on the other hand would have handled it a little differently. Knowing how the boys club operates I would have taken matters into my own hands - then chopped it off. Justice would have then prevailed. Time in the pokey would have been worth it. Send a message.

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5piwohio(56 comments)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

"the harassment by Kitchen started in late 2009 when he was the 2nd Ward councilman, and was off and on until July 2013 when she had an attorney contact the law director about the behavior"

Ok, I do not condone any harassment by anyone in my workplace. I preach it is wrong, dumb, has no place at work or even outside of work. This goes both ways. BUT from 2009 to 2013 and then she hit the laywer up for action. I say she was a bit late. 1st time warn them, 2 nd time, file on them. And if the first time meets the level, file then. Why did she wait so darn long.?? This is my only issue. And she has to go (leave city employment) to protect herself and the city. It is never the same after you go through this. I am a male senior supervisor. This would have been corrected the first time and it would have been the last time for the offender. Never would I condone, help, hinder or protect any of my employees who conduct themselves like this, but the person being treated like this must stand up and report.
And the offender and all who are shown to have knowledge and did nothing should be paying this entire fine, then fired. Take the money from the retirement they have. Why the taxpayers???

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6legaleagle(27 comments)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

I have to agree with piwohio. Start by removing the now President of Council and then mayor of Youngstown. His quote were " Well what do you expect? your a pretty girl".... How he isn't being blamed for part of this is beyond my belief. His arrogance is so below standards and should be removed from his position as well. And to think His big neanderthal son was running for Judge...... Oh and lets not forget that he also gave Mr. Demain Kitchen a sum of 4,000.00 who was running as an independent. ... Oh and wait when asked he also stated that he didn't remember what amount he gave his employee... Oh... and again his son stood on a platform and talked about integrity and loyalty.... Come on .... Someone should really look into these bafoons...... Oh and wait... how about the 20,000.00 he cost the city for his son's doomed bar that no one wants to talk about.... Maybe the AG office should look into these actions as well... Oh...

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7legaleagle(27 comments)posted 3 months, 4 weeks ago

I also wanted to say that this Arrogant President of Council if memory serves me correct was in the midst of when the city had to pay yet another harassment case when the fool Maceyko was running for Prosecutor... Come on People 110,00.00 then and now this ... The city better watch that their malpractice insurance does not drop them...

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