Evanston to hire outside firm to investigate response to sexual harassment allegations


Daily file photo by Maia Spoto

The Evanston lakefront at sunset. On Monday, the city announced it plans to bring in an outside firm to investigate the city’s handlings of sexual harassment allegations among beachfront staff.

Jacob Fulton, Summer Editor

Evanston will engage an outside firm to conduct an impartial investigation into the handling of allegations of sexual harassment among beachfront workers, the city announced Monday. 

The announcement comes days after WBEZ published an investigative report, which revealed that over 50 city employees signed a petition last summer alleging a culture of rampant sexual harassment by fellow beachfront staff. On Saturday, City Council held an emergency meeting to address the allegations. According to Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th), elected officials were “never” notified of the allegations.

The petition called for the city to thoroughly address the issue, including through a public apology to victims and the firing of two male employees. 

Prior to appointing the outside investigator, the city implemented immediate sexual harassment training, fired one of the two men named in the petition and appointed a city employee to serve as a liaison for complaints from lakefront staff. According to WBEZ, the second man resigned on Friday. 

The move to enlist an outside investigator is in line with calls from some community members, including the ​Community Alliance for Better Government, a local government accountability group. The city said updates on the investigation and its results will be forthcoming.

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Twitter: @jacobnfulton

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