Portland Transportation Bureau had poor workplace culture

November 29, 2017 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The maintenance division inside the Portland Bureau of Transportation has harbored a workplace culture where derogatory comments, unprofessional behavior and sexist attitudes are common, according to a consultant’s report.

The bureau commissioned the report after an internal investigation uncovered that a supervisor had routinely hazed employees of a sewer maintenance crew, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported . The report was made public Tuesday.


The report indicated the hazing was isolated but other bad behavior was not, according to Brenda Carpenter, a former Portland human resources manager who started a private consultancy. Carpenter interviewed 44 of the division’s 377 employees to compile the report.

Half of the participating employees reported unprofessional behaviors and said the city failed to address those behaviors, according to the report. About a third reported seeing behavior derogatory to a group, culture, gender or sexual orientation. Employees also noted excessive talk about politics and religion from co-workers.

The best way to deal with the workplace bad behavior was not to get involved, two-thirds of the employees said. The employee also said they feared retaliation if they did intervene or report the problems.

Transportation Bureau Director Leah Treat said the report uncovered concerning issues, but the key finding was that the hazing appeared to be isolated.

“This clearly articulates some behavior we don’t want to see from our employees,” Treat said. “Yelling at people, calling people names, are not acceptable and not how we want to treat our employees and treat each other.”

The bureau plans to form a task force to address the report findings, Treat said. It also plans to add more staff to oversee employees and to implement more human resources training.


Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive,