Washington County COO files internal harassment complaint against commissioner, county employee

Washington County’s chief operating officer, Jim Hovis, has filed an internal harassment complaint against Commissioners President Jeff Cline and one other Washington County government employee, a move that employees fear is retaliatory and without merit.

County employees confirmed last Thursday that Hovis filed an internal harassment grievance on December 14 against Cline and another county employee whom Hovis suspects leaked county documents and other information to A Miner Detail.

Without any supporting evidence, Hovis’ internal harassment complaint contends that Cline conspired with other county employees to leak information to A Miner Detail about an internal grievance filed against Hovis by a Washington County employee.

County employees tell A Miner Detail that Hovis “appears to be retaliating¬†against the same county employee who filed a grievance against him.”

“Jim Hovis is guilty of bullying a county employee, and now he’s retaliating¬†against the same employee, furthering targeting them with a phony and frivolous harassment complaint – without a single shred of evidence,” a county employee told A Miner Detail on Friday on the condition of anonymity.

Another county employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Hovis is “clearly abusing the county’s harassment policy” and suggested Hovis’ job could be in jeopardy should he continue to pursue his complaint against Cline and the county employee.

Hovis did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. He is out of the office until Jan. 4.

A Miner Detail reported in November that other workplace complaints have been filed against Hovis.

Cline and the other employee named in Hovis’ complaint could not be reached.