RED WING — An old sexual harassment incident involving the new director of Goodhue County's Veterans Service Office has led to questions about the hiring process since that issue was not discovered in the county's background check.
Lyman "Robby" Robinson, the sitting mayor of Cannon Falls, was hired March 18 in a unanimous vote by the Goodhue County Board. He was one of four candidates who interviewed to replace Bob Davis, who recently retired after 23 years on the job.
However, Robinson's four-year tenure as the VSO in Washington County was marred by sexual harassment complaints by female coworkers in 2010 that were substantiated through a departmental investigation. He received a written reprimand dated Nov. 4, 2010, from Daniel Papin, director of community services.
According to a copy of the complaint the Post-Bulletin obtained through a data request, Robinson "exhibited a pattern of inappropriate eye contact of looking and staring at breasts of multiple female employees in the Community Services Department."
The complaint says that Papin had previously raised the issue and ordered Robinson to take "corrective action" prior to filing the formal complaint.
"I must warn you that continued inappropriate behavior relating to violations of respectful workplace policy and sexual harassment creating a hostile work environment is very serious and will not be tolerated," Papin wrote in the Nov. 4 reprimand, noting any further violations could result in his termination.
Robinson was required to take training session focused on maintaining a respectful workplace, but he continued on the job without further incident until resigning March 3, 2014, to accept the same position in Goodhue County.
None of those issues were disclosed by Robinson or discovered during the county's background check. The omission isn't sitting well with some Goodhue County officials.
Goodhue County Administrator Scott Arneson says an internal review of the county's hiring process is currently being conducted. Goodhue County Board Chairman Ron Allen says that incident would have changed his vote to hire Robinson.
Though the situation was not discussed at Tuesday's board meeting — the first since Robinson was hired — Allen addressed it Thursday in a phone interview.
"The situation is very complicated," said Allen, a veteran and active member of the Red Wing American Legion. "I'm very concerned that the report didn't come up during the hiring process. It would have impacted how I would have voted.
"He's a director in our department and he has that in his file? That concerns me. I'm sure there's going to be more that comes up in the future."
Robinson's duties include helping veterans process benefit claims, re-acclimate into the general populace after serving abroad, and various other responsibilities. It does not appear that the recent revelation will have an impact on his new job.
"You obviously have to look at an entire career — the positives and negatives of an employment record," Arneson said.
Added Allen: "We're past that. If anything new comes up, that may be reconsidered. But that's not a good way to start a new job."