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Investigation finds Wadena County Auditor-Treasurer guilty of creating hostile work environment

The Wadena County Board of Commissioners Tuesday accepted three recommendations from Labor Attorney Dyan Ebert in regard to grievance allegations made against Auditor-Treasurer Judy Taves Sept. 12 by Teamsters Local 320. The allegations were that Taves had created a hostile working environment.

Ebert submitted a report made to her and to fellow attorney Melinda Sanders by an investigator at Tuesday's special midday meeting of the board. The report found Taves had violated the county's labor agreement with the union.

Because Taves is an elected county official not subject to dismissal by the board, the basic question before the board was how to move forward with Taves retaining her elected position.

The board passed all six of the grievance motions made on behalf of the union in the Sept. 12 meeting. In Tuesday's meeting, Ebert recommended action on the three motions that had relevance which a majority of the board accepted.

• Taves would access to her office but be limited in her interactions with department employees.

• To the appointment of Ryan Odden continue on an interim basis pending further discussion.

• Any meeting between the auditor-treasurer and the staff must be preceded by the opportunity to the staff to request a third person be present.

Ebert also brought up two more issues regarding Taves. The first was that Taves be expected to continue as clerk of the county board as required by Minnesota statute, but until further action by the board, that Joy Weyer, a member of the department, would continue to assemble and publish the county board agendas along with the chairman of the board. The second was that the board in recognition of the findings of the investigation should admonish Taves for three violations.