Former Cleveland Community Police Commission employees drop harassment, retaliation lawsuit

September 19, 2018

Former Cleveland Community Police Commission employees drop harassment, retaliation lawsuit

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Three former employees of the Cleveland Community Police Commission have dropped a lawsuit that alleged they were subjected to harassment, a hostile work environment and retaliation.

Rosemary Jovic, Bethany Studenic and Chinenye Thompson informed Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Shaughnessy last week that they were dropping the suit, which named the city and commission Executive Director Jason Goodrick as defendants.

The lawsuit accused Goodrick of harassment and sexual harassment and ignoring concerns about safety and the workplace environment. It also accused the city of not taking their complaints seriously and retaliating against them.

Claire Wade-Kilts, an attorney representing the women, said litigating the lawsuit would require her clients to turn over a lot of personal information and relive their experiences. Wade-Kilts said her clients just want to move on.

“They just didn’t see the upside to it anymore,” she said.

A city spokesman did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The city placed Goodrick on paid leave in April as an outside investigator looked into problems at the commission. The trio who filed the lawsuit, as well as a fourth employee, quit in the weeks following Goodrick’s return in early May.

A July report by the city’s human resources director found no evidence that any commission employee violated city policy. But the report painted a picture of a dysfunctional work environment fueled by close relationships and animosity among co-workers.

Goodrick and the city formally denied the allegations in the lawsuit. It pointed to the human resources director’s report investigation as proof that it took Jovic, Studenic and Thompson’s complaints seriously.

The 13-member commission was formed in September 2015 as a means to give community feedback on the Cleveland police department’s policies and procedures. Its creation was required under a settlement that Cleveland reached with the Justice Department to overhaul the way it polices the city.

Its existence has been turbulent from the beginning, though. While the city gave the all-volunteer commission a budget that allows for five paid staff positions, Goodrick is currently its sole paid employee.

The team monitoring the city’s progress under the consent decree said in a report in August that it was “tremendously disappointed” that employee issues have distracted the commission from its mission to gather and provide community feedback.

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