Evanston’s top HR official suspended after allegations of widespread sexual harassment among beach staff


Daily file photo by Catherine Buchaniec

Evanston beachgoers. Due to the city’s handling of allegations of widespread sexual harassment among beachfront employees, Head of Human Resources Jennifer Lin has been suspended.

Jacob Fulton, Summer Editor

Evanston’s top human resources official has been suspended following community outcry surrounding the city’s handling of sexual harassment allegations among beachfront staff.

Jennifer Lin, the city’s head of human resources, faced disciplinary action after more than 50 women submitted a petition last summer detailing a culture of harassment for beach employees. Lin has served in the role since 2015. 

According to an email obtained by WBEZ, who broke the initial story about the petition, City Manager Erika Storlie said neither she nor any other members of the City Manager’s Office or the city’s Law Department were made aware of the petition. 

This lack of communication, Storlie said, led to the disciplinary action taken against Lin. The city was considering repercussions for other employees who failed to alert their supervisors of the petition, she said in the email. 

Storlie’s statement indicating a lack of knowledge echoes comments made by elected officials, who said they were also previously unaware of the petition’s existence. Moving forward, the city also plans to hire an independent investigator to look into its handling of the allegations. 

In a Thursday statement, Mayor Daniel Biss said he was alerted of the issue in mid-June by a community member, and began to investigate the matter. In his statement, Biss called the city’s handling of the allegations a “serious institutional failure,” and said the city will provide full transparency on its handling of the situation moving forward. 

“I appreciate your willingness to hold our whole City, including me, accountable,” Biss said in the statement. “We owe that not only to the people who work on our lakefront but to everyone who comes in contact with the City of Evanston.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jacobnfulton

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