April 19, 2014

Mostly clear

Medina city building inspector fired

Text of mayor’s letter

David Knox and Dan Pompili | The Gazette

MEDINA — The city’s chief building official, Steve Vogel, has been fired following an investigation into complaints of sexual harassment, Mayor Dennis Hanwell announced.

In a letter to Vogel dated Monday, Hanwell wrote: “Although you have done good work for the city and have made some very positive customer-service enhancements in the Building Department, this type of behavior cannot be tolerated. It has persisted for such duration and caused such turmoil for staff members that your employment with the city can no longer be permitted. As such, please permit this letter to serve notice on you that you are hereby terminated, effective immediately.”

Vogel was placed on administrative leave last month following complaints he harassed or created a hostile work environment for two female city employees.

Hanwell said in the letter that the complaints were investigated by city Law Director Greg Huber, who “talked with not only the two complaining employees but also present and former employees of the Community Development department.”

“The completed investigation details incidents of comments, requests, physical contact, and inappropriate verbal comments to female employees that were clearly unwelcomed,” Hanwell wrote. “The staff felt violated, offended, and felt these actions caused a hostile and unprofessional work environment to the point of not being comfortable working here with you.”

Hanwell noted that Vogel had been “trained specifically on sexual harassment policy by the City of Medina on July 26, 2012.”

Vogel met with the mayor Dec. 10 and was given “the opportunity to share any other information or mitigating circumstances for me to consider before rendering judgment on this complaint,” Hanwell wrote in the letter. “You had nothing further to add, except for being apologetic for the problems created by your actions.”

The mayor declined to discuss the specifics of the sexual harassment complaints or to release Huber’s report, saying it was not a public record because of “attorney/client privilege.”

Vogel, who lives in Avon Lake, could not be reached for comment.

The city hired Vogel as a building inspector in May 2000. He was promoted to head the two-person building department in May 2011.

A review of Vogel’s personnel file, requested by The Gazette, found several complaints and disciplinary actions.

In an April 2011-March 2012 performance review, he was downgraded for having a “partially adequate” demeanor, scoring six out of a possible

10 points in that category. His then-supervisor, Greg Hannan, noted he had previous discussions with Vogel, urging him to display a more “supportive tone to staff.” All previous reviews rated Vogel’s demeanor between eight and 10.

A March 2012 letter from Hannan also criticized Vogel for refusing to forward annual reports after two emails and a verbal request.

“As we discussed, this is not acceptable as I am your supervisor,” Hannan wrote.

The same letter reprimands Vogel for yelling at an administrative employee in front of two customers. The yelling was overheard by “multiple city hall employees across the building and anyone who was present within the rotunda,” Hannan wrote.

Vogel also was formally reprimanded in 2008 after a Guilford Township resident filed a complaint against him, claiming he was unprofessional and discourteous.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com. Contact David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.

  • Johnny Honest

    It’s public record! If he was the police chief, he’d get paid suspension and a raise.