Minneapolis regulatory chief was accused of discrimination
- Article by: Eric Roper
- Star Tribune
- August 23, 2013 - 1:24 PM
Minneapolis’ former regulatory chief was accused of discriminating against women and spending work time with his family in Florida before he resigned only nine months into the job last year, according to city documents.
The documents show that regulatory services director Gregory Stubbs allegedly told a female co-worker that he found gymnast figures “sexy” and offended employees by saying “I don’t know what this LGBT stuff is all about. I’m just a guy from Florida.”
The city released the heavily redacted complaints against Stubbs earlier this month, a year after the Star Tribune first requested them. The Legislature changed the state’s open records law this May to allow the documents’ release after it became clear that Stubbs and other top appointees in Minneapolis did not qualify as “public officials” under the law’s old definition.
Stubbs, who supervised nearly 300 employees responsible for licensing, inspections and other city functions, resigned in August 2012 and left with a $65,000 settlement approved by the City Council. No reasons for his departure were made public, and the ethics and human resources investigations were underway when Stubbs quit.
His abrupt resignation was part of larger turmoil within the department. Rocco Forte, who preceded Stubbs in the position, retired suddenly in 2011 with a complaint pending against him. Two housing inspections staffers were charged with records misuse in September 2012. Two days before Stubbs resigned, Mayor R.T. Rybak announced a reorganization of the department that stripped many of its core functions and eliminated several management positions.
‘Hostile work environment’
Stubbs, who is now director of growth services in central Florida’s Marion County, did not respond to several requests for comment. He held a variety of planning and development positions at Florida and Texas governments before coming to Minneapolis in December 2011.
A Minneapolis spokesman said three people came forward with concerns about Stubbs. The human resources investigation unearthed a number of situations in which women felt slighted by Stubbs’ actions or demeanor, sensing they were in a “boys club” and a hostile work environment.
“In reference to [redacted] Greg Stubbs allegedly stated, ‘I can see how she comes across as a bitch,’ ” one document states. “Stubbs asked [redacted] ‘How tall are you?’ [A]fter she replied, Stubbs stated, ‘I have always found that gymnast figure sexy.’ ”
The records also mention a staff meeting in which an animated Stubbs recalled a conference he attended in Los Angeles. Stubbs had taken interest in an “LGBT tour” he read about in conference materials. He asked the staff, “Do you all think they’d let a heterosexual guy like me on the tour?” and made the comment about his ignorance of “LGBT stuff.”
“I was shocked at the fact that the Director of Regulatory Services would tell an offensive, demeaning and divisive story aimed at sexual orientation and not even ‘skip a beat’ in doing so,” an employee, whose name was redacted, told an investigator.
One incident indicates that Stubbs had run into similar trouble before. “I might not be here [at the city] longer than 18 months,” Stubbs allegedly told a co-worker, according to the HR investigation. “I left my last job because of something I said.”
Stubbs’ previous job was in Volusia County, Fla. David Byron, the county’s community services director, said in an e-mail that “Volusia County does not comment on personnel matters.”
One woman described a meeting in which Stubbs asked her to stop speaking, lower her chair and sit on her hands to feel like “the smallest person in the room.” “I felt very uncomfortable physically and emotionally sitting like this in front of Greg while [redacted] watched in silence,” the woman said, according to the HR file. Stubbs later told her to smile more and get “in control of my emotions” — she then began crying.
Two men who were interviewed by a human resources investigator did not believe the environment was hostile. They could not recall any time Stubbs mentioned a certain co-worker’s gender or sexual orientation.
Time in Florida
The ethics investigation regarding Stubbs’ time in Florida was prompted by an anonymous caller to the city’s ethics hot line.
Stubbs wrote to the city’s ethics officer in July 2012 that he had spent 21 days out of the office “telecommuting” with staff, plus another four at a national conference. Three were reported as vacation.
“My ability to work while outside the office is both customary and necessary,” Stubbs wrote in a letter to ethics officer Susan Trammell and Mayor Rybak. Trammell’s findings included an e-mail Stubbs sent to the city’s HR department, in which he suggests delaying an appointment because he was in Florida attending his son’s high school graduation.
The combination of that e-mail and the out-of-office days “supports the inference that his time sheet reporting of days worked included nonwork personal days,” Trammell wrote in her report.
“The concern that was laid up in that ethics complaint is that he’s not around enough to do his job,” City Coordinator Paul Aasen said in an interview. Aasen said the complaints dovetailed with other “concerns about how [Stubbs] was managing the department from an enterprise view.”
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732
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