Supervisor accused of harassment no longer employed by county
Marion County officials have confirmed that a public works operations manager accused of harassment is no longer employed by the county.
Jamie Namitz, a Marion County Public Works employee for 16 years, spoke before the Board of Commissioners Oct. 3, alleging that Don Newell created a "hostile work environment" and prevented her from getting promotions because she's a woman. At the time of her testimony, human resources had conducted an investigation and, she said, backed up her statements, but Newell was still employed by the county.
Last week, Jolene Kelley, public information officer for Marion County, said that's not the case.
"Don Newell does not work for Marion County any longer," she said, adding that she couldn't comment any further.
In her public testimony, Namitz referred to an interview she had for a job in August in which Newell, who was on a panel conducting the interview, allegedly said to her, in response to her question of what her greatest weaknesses and strengths were, "my biggest weakness was that he didn't feel my crew would respect me as a supervisor. ... Then he proceeded to tell me that my biggest strength was my sexuality," she said.
Diana Downs, as an officer for the Marion County Employee Association, also spoke in public comment at the meeting, saying she was upset as a woman that this was something occurring in 2018.
"This isn't a union issue this isn't a female issue, this is a safety issue," she said. "The women that work for Marion County are not safe. We are not safe from harassment, from discrimination, from objectification, and from humiliation. Let's be honest, it's not just women, men are affected in this situation as well. They're being made to choose which side of the line to stand. There shouldn't even be a question of a line to stand."
In response to the public comments, Commissioner Janet Carlson spoke on behalf of the board of commissioners before moving on with the meeting agenda.
"I agree with you that sexual harassment, discrimination, violence in the workplace cannot be tolerated," she said."However I just need you to know there are processes in Marion County and I'm sure some of you have heard that the process is moving forward in terms of getting a different resolution."
She also tried to alleviate any concerns employees might have about reporting harassment in the workplace based on this incident.
"If there are issues going on in a department you need to have confidence that your board of commissioners cares, that we will not tolerate it, that we'll take every action necessary to make sure that that culture and that situation changes," she said. "So I give you my commitment on that today, I believe my fellow commissioners are on board with that as well. It's not OK, period. That is our position. We will support you with moving forward to a resolution on this specific issue."