By Jessica Mathews /

The Howell City Council met recently and approved an update to its discrimination and harassment policy.

Council unanimously approved a motion to adopt amendments to the City’s 2013 Personnel Policies Manual regarding non-discrimination and harassment reporting. Mayor Nick Proctor again commended City Manager Erv Suida and Human Resources Director Jamie Helman on the updates.

A memo states that it has long been the City’s philosophy and policy that any unlawful discrimination against any employee or applicant based on a variety of factors will not be allowed or tolerated. Those include race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, handicap, genetic information, height, weight, arrest record, veteran, marital status, or other factors prohibited by law.

The amendments were recommended to enhance an employee’s ability to report such violations should one occur.

The policy changes were prompted by the resignation of former City Manager Paul DeBuff in May. Suida was the previous DPS Director and had served as the interim city manager for the year leading up to DeBuff being hired. No information was released as to just what led to DeBuff’s departure other than the original statement that he had lost the confidence of city staff after “implementing a very rapid succession of changes.”

Following the resignation, Proctor sought Council’s support to “hopefully prevent a recurrence of the recent unpleasantries” with a review of the city’s whistleblower polices. At the time, Proctor said he hoped it would preclude a future mayor and council from being blind-sided. He noted that staff was required to work through the City’s organizational structure and not go outside to Council with any concerns - which Proctor said presented a problem with what had been witnessed and concerns from staff presented. That led to a staff review of whistleblower policies and the proposed changes to clearly articulate how to report issues of concern.

The amendments take effect immediately following Council approval.