Highlights of OIG activity from July 1 through September 30, 2017 are summarized below:
- An OIG investigation established that three Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Aviation Security Officers (ASOs) and one Aviation Security Sergeant violated City of Chicago Personnel Rules in response to a passenger disturbance aboard United Airlines Express Flight 3411 on April 9, 2017. Specifically, the first ASO violated the CDA Use of Force Policy when that ASO escalated a non-threatening situation into a physically violent one by forcefully removing a passenger from the aircraft. The ASO’s use of excessive force caused the passenger to hit his face on an armrest, resulting in the passenger sustaining a concussion, a broken nose, and the loss of two teeth. OIG’s investigation also established that the second ASO made misleading statements in two reports and the third ASO made material omissions in a report, regarding the first ASO’s forceful removal of the passenger from the aircraft. The investigation further established that the Sergeant deliberately removed material facts from the third ASO’s “To/From Report” and approved reports without all essential information. Finally, OIG’s investigation identified significant confusion within CDA’s Public Safety and Security, Security Operations Division regarding the roles and expectations of ASOs, which highlighted CDA’s fundamental failure to implement practical policies and procedures. OIG recommended CDA impose discipline up to and including discharge against the first ASO and Sergeant; for the second and third ASOs, OIG recommended discipline commensurate with the gravity of the employees’ violations, past disciplinary record, and any other relevant considerations. In response, CDA discharged the first ASO and the Sergeant and issued five-day suspensions to the second and third ASOs.
- A continuing OIG investigation established that a Department of Water Management (DWM) supervisory employee received numerous racist and offensive emails on the employee’s City email account over the course of several years and failed to report those emails and, in at least one instance, provided an affirming and acquiescing email response. OIG recommended that DWM discharge and refer the employee for placement on the ineligible for rehire list maintained by the Department of Human Resources (DHR). In response, DWM suspended the employee for 14 days. DWM acknowledged that the employee failed to report receiving numerous racist and offensive emails, but noted that the majority of the emails in question were also sent to three top-level DWM managers, including the commissioner at the time.
- A continuing OIG investigation established that a Department of Water Management (DWM) supervisory employee sent or received at least five racist and hateful emails and received at least one sexually explicit photo, using the employee’s City email account and computer. OIG would have recommended that DWM discharge the employee, but the employee retired after being interviewed. OIG therefore recommended that DWM issue a formal determination, designate the employee as having resigned under inquiry, and place OIG’s report in the employee’s personnel file. In response, DWM agreed with OIG’s findings and recommendations, and the employee was designated as retired under inquiry.
- An OIG investigation identified patterns suggestive of potential abuse of intermittent leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by employees at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC). OIG found that 49% of all OEMC Police Communication Operators (PCOs) have been designated as eligible to take intermittent FMLA leave, with that number increasing steadily over the last several years. In studying a sample of designated PCOs, OIG found that several employees had patterns of FMLA leave which raised the specter of abuse, including the frequent use of FMLA leave on Fridays and Saturdays, and the use of FMLA leave at or around a major holiday or sporting event. OIG recommended that OEMC take steps to curb the possible abuse of FMLA time by PCOs. Specifically, OIG recommended that OEMC encourage front line supervisors, as appropriate and permissible, to elevate concerns about potential abuse through their chain of command and document any concerns raised this way. OIG further recommended that the DHR provide training to front line supervisors on what they are obligated and permitted to do under FMLA. In response, OEMC established a more rigorous review process for FMLA leave requests, planned to require second opinions as necessary and lawful, and committed to continuing to review its vacation scheduling system to determine whether adjustments can be made, in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements, to allow employees more flexibility. OEMC stated it will also task supervisors with additional duties in the monitoring and management of problematic absenteeism or tardiness.