On December 30, 2019, Sen. Gelser told Ms. Hanson, her Chief of Staff, that Ms. Hanson’s “many consistent errors” were “not sustainable.” In response, Ms. Hanson raised allegations for the first time that Sen. Gelser had subjected her to a “toxic” and “abusive” work environment. Sen. Gelser considered the allegations serious and important, and immediately reported Ms. Hanson’s concerns to Jessica N. Knieling, Interim Human Resources Director. That same day, Ms. Knieling contacted Ms. Hanson to offer resources and support, and to better understand Ms. Hanson’s concerns regarding her work environment. Among other things shared, Ms. Knieling advised Ms. Hanson that the matter would be referred to an outside investigator pursuant to Rule 27 given the nature of the allegations. Ms. Hanson responded that she did not intend to initiate an investigation or even involve Human Resources. Two days later, however, on January 2, 2020, Ms. Hanson raised a new allegation that some of what she experienced was “retaliation” by Sen. Gelser for Ms. Hanson taking or attempting to take family medical leave.
The factual record is indisputable that: (i) Ms. Hanson remained on protected OFLA leave from October 29 through November 5 (though the medical certification stated that Ms. Hanson was able to return to work on November 2 or sooner if her symptoms had resolved); (ii) she received her full period of requested leave; (iii) she did not request any additional leave; (iv) there was no denial of requested leave benefits; (v) she was not required to perform any work during her leave; (vi) Ms. Hanson was reinstated to her same position; and (vii) Sen. Gelser encouraged her—on more than on occasion—to make sure she took the time she needed to heal and to not come back to work prematurely.The report continues:
Ms. Hanson remains unwavering in her belief that Sen. Gelser was “pushing back on her for taking leave,” was “trying to take her leave away,” and was “fixated on taking [her] paycheck away from her.” This belief seems to have arisen after Ms. Hanson returned from leave and was triggered by communication regarding whether Ms. Hanson had sufficient paid time off to cover her leave and how to properly designate the leave. What the record bears out is that Ms. Hanson likely conflated two materially (and legally) distinct concepts: (1) her entitlement to protected leave, and (2) whether the leave would be paid.The committee met on October 5 to consider the case. At the conclusion, the committee took five votes:
|Post Date: 2020-10-12 08:54:05||Last Update: 2020-10-12 16:43:47|