The six members of the Bristol City Council, unanimously, issued this statement censuring Mayor Ken Cockayne at a special council meeting Sept. 6:
Be it resolved that the Bristol City Council hereby censures Mayor Kenneth Cockayne for retaliation as addressed in the Rose Report dated June 28, 2016.
Retaliation is defined when an employer takes materially adverse action against an employee who reports what they believe to be unlawful harassment. The standard that this Council is following was recently defined by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission on August 28, 2016 and has been the law in this country for more than a decade.
We unanimously find that the conduct described in the Rose Report regarding retaliation violated City policy and is a contradiction to State and Federal law.
We expressly find that there is no ambiguity in the threatening and retaliatory statements made by the mayor to Attorney Lacey.
As a matter of policy and of law, any employee of this City has a legal right to bring a claim of harassment without fear of retaliation, threats or retribution. Any attempt to interfere with that right is reprehensible.
This council considered a series of punitive measures ranging from termination, suspension, and censure. We have concluded that under our charter as presently drafted, we lack the authority to legally take any measures other than censure. However the council unanimously affirms that this behavior will not be tolerated, and will look to ways to address any further occurrences.
We appreciate the employees who came forward in this matter, and adopt the recommendations of the Report.
Those recommendations are
- The mayor must acknowledge wrongdoing in threatening the complaining party and Attorney Lacey. The mayor’s initial statement of August 3, 2016, we believe, does not meet this requirement.
- The City must—and has—established an Ombudsman Protocol under which the complaining party and Attorney Lacey can report perceived retaliation.
- The City shall establish intensive training for all supervisors, staff and elected officials, including this Council on civil rights and related matters.
- Restore the complaining party’s sick time. This has been accomplished.
- The mayor shall utilize, and has utilized, Employee Assistance, to address any issues resulting from the investigation.
Further, the council will recommend revisions to the charter to address the supervision and discipline of all elected officials.