Amidst continuing turmoil over the “Dumler situation,”—and various attempts to force him from office—the most direct path to Supervisor Chris Dumler’s ouster may be a simple application of Albemarle County employee EEOC regulations.
Democrat Dumler, who recently pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery charges, has insisted that he will not resign from his Scottsville Magisterial District seat on the Board of Supervisors. However, he may be compelled to exit—if subject to the same rules as every other Albemarle County employee.
The County of Albemarle Personnel Policy, §P-02 B-2, Definition of Employee Status, references Supervisors, under Definitions of Employment:
Salaried Board Members: Members of the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission are paid an annual salary as established by county ordinance and state law.
In addition, section C-4, Extent of Participation in and Eligibility for Benefits, from the same document, states:
Salaried Board Member: Eligible to participate in all medical and dental insurance programs.
Since Supervisor Dumler appears to meet the county definition of employee, he should be—like other county employees—subject to county personnel policies.
The County of Albemarle Personnel Policy, §P-21 A, EEOC Policy Statement Including Sexual Harassment Policy: assures these rules will apply to all county employees:
The policies contained in this section set forth provisions for initial and continuous employment of all personnel of Albemarle County. In addition to policies established by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, the division shall comply with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations.
§P-21 C-I, Policy, states that all Albemarle County employees must undergo initial and ongoing “sexual harassment” training:
To ensure employees are informed of the County’s Sexual Harassment Policy and trained on their rights and responsibilities under the policy, the Department of Human Resources (HR) will offer sexual harassment training to all new employees within 30 days of employment or appointment to the new position, and will offer training on an ongoing basis to existing employees. It is the department director/office administrator’s responsibility to ensure new employees register for training. Additionally, all department directors/office administrators and supervisors should periodically attend refresher training on sexual harassment offered by HR and employees will receive a copy of the policy periodically.
§P-21 C-III B-18, Forms of Sexual Harassment, defines one form of sexual harassment as:
Giving sexually explicit notes or pictures or sexually offensive items to another.
Further, §P-21 C-III C, Forms of Sexual Harassment, speaks specifically to sexual battery, of which Supervisor Dumler has been convicted:
A third form of sexual harassment, sexual assault or battery, is prohibited by this policy and may constitute a crime. Substantiated allegations of sexual assault or battery constitute grounds for disciplinary action, including immediate leave without pay of the alleged harasser pending investigation. A finding of sexual assault or battery constitutes grounds for immediate dismissal. (Sexual assault or battery may include but is not limited to: Unwanted kissing, grabbing, pressing against or fondling of the intimate parts of another’s body or rape or forcing another to touch the intimate parts of one’s body.)
The Albemarle County Personnel Policy brings forth many heretofore-unasked questions:
- Did Supervisor Chris Dumler receive county-mandated sexual harassment training?
- Does county personnel policy apply to actions outside of the workplace?
- Does county personnel policy apply only when both parties are employed by Albemarle County?
- If Supervisor Chris Dumler sent sexually explicit notes from a county-issued electronic device (i.e. iPad), would that constitute sexual harassment as defined above?
- Does Supervisor Chris Dumler’s conviction on sexual battery charges subject him to “disciplinary action” and “immediate dismissal”?
- If one of Supervisor Chris Dumler’s victims brought forth a complaint, would Albemarle County Human Resources take action against the Supervisor?
- Could Supervisor Chris Dumler be stripped of his salary and benefits as a result of his sexual battery conviction?
- If so, who would make that decision?
- If, as an Albemarle County employee, Supervisor Chris Dumler is not subject to delineated county personnel policies, could other employees disciplined under these policies claim a violation of equal protection under the law?
Precedents set by Albemarle County in the disposition of these unanswered questions will have serious repercussions for future enforcement of county sexual harassment policies. Board of Supervisors members would be wise to seek counsel before dismissing such queries.
Filed Under: Government and Governance
About the Author: Rob Schilling is founder of The Schilling Show Blog and News; host of WINA's The Schilling Show, heard weekdays from noon to 2 PM; husband; father; and community watchdog.