An independent investigator will soon be digging into a local district attorney’s complaint of a hostile work environment in the Lincoln County government.
Lincoln County commissioners voted 3-0 at a May 4 meeting to approve hiring an independent investigator to look into the matter. The decision was made after commissioners met in an executive session with the county’s attorney, according to Lincoln County Administrator Carrie Kipfer.
District Attorney Natasha Irving recently raised concerns regarding how county officials handled issues within the Lincoln County district attorney’s Office and alleged the mishandling allowed for a hostile work environment. Irving claims the county administrator told district attorney’s office employees she wasn’t their boss, kept her out of the hiring process for staff members and improperly handled a personnel matter that resulted in a two-day suspension of an employee.
Kipfer has declined to comment on the allegations because they involve an ongoing personnel matter.
Irving met with commissioners on April 26 to discuss her request for an investigation. Irving asked county commissioners to approve at least $10,000 for the human resources investigation, which a third-party lawyer would conduct. Kipfer declined to comment on any specifics regarding the investigation.
Irving serves as the top prosecutor for Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties. She said the latest issues come after county officials, including the administrator, have repeatedly kept her out of the loop on matters that deal with her office, including the hiring of employees.
At the time the personnel and hostile work environment issues came to a head earlier this year, Irving was on a two-month maternity leave. Irving could not discuss the specifics of the personnel issue she claims the county administrator improperly handled. But she said that situation and subsequent complaints from her staff in the district attorney’s Lincoln County office that went uninvestigated by county officials need to be looked into.
Irving’s allegations come four years after Lincoln County settled a sexual harassment and hostile work environment lawsuit filed by a former district attorney’s office employee.