Report examines ‘toxic’ work environment under WashCo presidency

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — KOIN 6 News has obtained a copy of an investigation into the behavior of Washington County’s top elected official.

The report follows an exclusive investigation by KOIN 6 News into how County Chairman Kathryn Harrington treats employees and whether she created a hostile work environment in the county and her previous job at Metro Council.

Accusations of a ‘toxic’ work environment under Harrington came to a head during a presentation she gave to her former colleagues at the Metro Council in June about how money should be spent on services to homeless.

When she finished, it quickly became apparent that the members of the Metro Council were confused by Harrington’s speech.

“President Harrington just texted me and said the wrong letter was sent,” Metro Council President Lynn Peterson said.

Behind the scenes, Harrington blamed his chief of staff, Elizabeth Mazzara Myers, for the mistake.

This new report from an outside firm, hired by Washington County, investigated whether Harrington was “shouting/yelling and engaging in unprofessional and disrespectful conduct toward” Myers.

Witnesses said Harrington was “agitated, upset, embarrassed and ashamed”. The report says she “cried and the county administrator met with the president for two hours to calm her down.”

Harrington told the interviewer she was embarrassed but “denied yelling or yelling”.

The report also looked at Harrington’s use of the “f” word when referring to an employee, which was overheard by the employee.

The county installed sound insulation on the walls of Harrington’s office, but she told the investigator “she didn’t apologize.”

The report also looked at Harrington’s behavior in public meetings and she did not deny that she might use “disrespectful body language towards employees and others.”

The most prominent allegation says that Harrington “borders on unprofessional; his behavior can be hostile and abusive and beyond unprofessional.

“Witnesses reported seeing employees upset, embarrassed, crying and one employee’s hands shaking, and on pins and needles because of President Harrington,” the report noted.

Harrington told the interviewer “she’s not rude and doesn’t interrupt employees. She reported that no one told her that a county employee had felt intimidated or intimidated or had cried or been scared.

The report adds “Harrington has indicated that she has high expectations and expects high quality and accountability from county employees.”

The report is a summary only and does not include any conclusions about Harrington’s behavior.

The county spokesperson told KOIN 6 News that another assessment will be made “after six months and in the future if necessary.”

KOIN 6 News has repeatedly asked Harrington for an interview.

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