The City of Rockville is paying a law firm up to $90,000 to investigate former city employees’ claims of harassment and discrimination by supervisors, according to a contract obtained by one of the former employees through the Maryland Public Information Act.
The contract with Saul Ewing LLP was provided by the city to Charles Baker and obtained by Rockville Patch. Baker, a former chief of inspection services for the city, was one of several former city employees quoted in that detailed the employees’ claims.
The contract’s release gives a first glimpse into the cost and scope of the independent investigation, which was .
Get daily and breaking news email updates from Rockville Patch by signing up for newsletters here.
The contract calls for Saul Ewing LLP’s Baltimore office to investigate “complaints by former city employees regarding the City of Rockville’s Department of Community Planning and Development Services and Department of Human Resources,” as well as “workforce complaints by current city employees.” It also calls for a “confidential report summarizing [Saul Ewing LLP’s] findings and offering recommendations to the city.”
The contract sets rates for billable hours by the firm’s partners and associates. It also includes “a fee cap of $7,500 for review and revision of the city’s Personnel Policy and Procedures Manual.” Saul Ewing LLP agreed to waive reimbursement for travel and mileage expenses, the contract states.
Inquiries about the investigation that Saul Ewing LLP receives from the press or the public are to be referred to Rockville’s city attorney, according to the contract terms.
“The amount of this contract shall not exceed $90,00 and the city does not guarantee any specific dollar expenditure,” the contract reads.
The contract runs through Aug. 15.
Click on the PDF above to read the contract, portions of which were redacted by the city.
Baker’s MPIA request included the contract and “any all documents associated with the investigation,” according to an email responding to the request. The email, which also was obtained by Rockville Patch, provided the contract but withheld other information Baker sought, citing portions of state code.
Louise Atkins, a council support specialist in the city manager’s office, wrote the following in the email to Baker:
“The City is withholding portions of Exhibit A, numbers 2 and 3 to the Contract, in accordance with SG §10-618(f) as records of investigation. These records reveal the strategy and methodology that would be used to conduct the investigation and the release of this information may prejudice the investigation and isn’t in the public interest. These records also reveal details regarding the product of the investigation which may prejudice the investigation if made available to the public. You may seek judicial review of the City’s decision, pursuant to SG §10-623.”
Saul Ewing LLP has offices along the East Coast, including in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Acting city manager Jennifer Kimball selected Saul Ewing LLP to conduct the probe after telling in April that the following reports detailing employees’ complaints.