United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
LAURA L. CHARTRAW, Plaintiff,
CITY OF SHAWANO and MARK KOHL, Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER
William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United States District
Laura L. Chartraw filed the instant action against Defendants
City of Shawano and her supervisor, Chief of Police Mark
Kohl, seeking relief for sex discrimination and retaliation.
Chartraw has filed a motion to compel documents relating to
an investigation by an attorney retained by the City of
another female employee's complaints of discrimination
against Chief Kohl, which arose during the investigation into
Chartraw's own claims. The defendants claim these
documents are protected by the attorney-client privilege and
the work product doctrine. The parties submitted briefs on
the issue and on November 8, 2017, the court held a hearing
on the motion. For the following reasons, Chartraw's
motion will be denied.
Allegations of Complaint
is employed by the City of Shawano's Police Department as
its Support Services Manager. Am. Compl. ¶ 10, ECF No.
3. She reports directly to Chief of Police Mark Kohl, who she
claims has made numerous offensive comments about her
appearance in February of 2015. Id. ¶ 11.
Chartraw also alleged that on multiple occasions in February
and March of 2015, Chief Kohl made offensive comments about
Officer Nicole Hoffmann, a female co-worker, concerning her
chest size, her weight, and her eating habits. Id.
¶ 13. Although Chartraw told Chief Kohl that his
comments were inappropriate and made her feel uncomfortable,
and reported his comments to Lieutenants Musolff and
Rabideau, she alleges that he again made offensive comments
to her about her appearance in April 2015. Id.
¶¶ 11, 12, 14. When she again confronted him about
his comments, Chief Kohl laughed and said that was the way he
talked to his wife and daughter. Chartraw alleges Kohl
continued to make rude comments to women and made demands of
them that he did not make of the male employees, such as
requiring them to personally greet him, smile more, report to
him when they came and went from the office, and make eye
contact with him. Id. ¶¶ 15, 16, 18. When
she continued to complain, Chartraw alleges that Chief Kohl
retaliated against her by yelling at her, criticizing her
work, removing authority, isolating her, and undermining the
trust and confidence of her subordinates. Id.
alleges that she complained to both Brian Knapp, the City
Administrator, and Lorna Marquardt, the mayor, but the abuse
continued. Id. ¶¶ 29-35. At one point,
Chartraw alleges, Chief Kohl told her he was going to give
her a 2% salary increase, but decided not to because she
refused to act as his confidential secretary and relate to
him what his subordinates say about him. Id. ¶
42. Chartraw claims that Chief Kohl's conduct toward her
and the City's failure to prevent and correct his
discriminatory and retaliatory conduct has caused, and
continues to cause, her to suffer substantial mental and
emotional distress and inconvenience, as well as monetary
loss. Id. ¶¶ 47, 48, 50, 54. She seeks
declaratory relief and compensatory and punitive damages.
City of Shawano's Employee Personnel Policy contains a
procedure for reporting harassing or retaliatory conduct at
work. It provides,
As an employee of the City/Utility, you have an obligation to
report any harassing or retaliatory conduct which you either
witness, or is specifically directed at you as an individual,
or that you learn from any credible source is effecting you
or some other employee of the City/Utility, that you feel is
offensive and unwelcome. . . .
An employee that has been the target or witness of
harassment, discrimination, or physical abuse shall
immediately report the matter to their immediate supervisor,
Department Manager, or City Administrator/Utility Manager. .
The City Administrator or Utility Manager or his/her designee
shall investigate the matter promptly and take appropriate
remedial action along with department heads and elected
officials. The results of the investigation shall be promptly
communicated to the complaining party together with the
remedial actions proposed and/or taken, if any, to stop
similar occurrences of further harassment and/or
discrimination, if any.
ECF No. 31-3 at 7.
accordance with this policy, the City initiated an
investigation of Chartraw's claims. Attorney James Kalny
was retained to conduct the investigation. Attorney Kalny,
his firm, and its predecessor have served as the City's
general labor and employment counsel for some thirty years.
ECF No. 36 at 1. In the course of his investigation of
Chartraw's complaint, Kalny interviewed Officer Hoffmann
on March 2, 2016. At the close of her interview about Chief
Kohl's comments pertaining to Officer Hoffmann's
appearance, Officer Hoffmann advised Kalny that she believed
Chief Kohl denied her a promotion on the basis of her sex and
detailed her experience for him. Kalny then initiated a
separate investigation into Officer Hoffmann's
allegations regarding the failure to promote accusation. He
conducted recorded interviews with Chief Kohl as well as
Lieutenant Mauel as part of the Hoffmann investigation, but
the digital recordings were subsequently recorded over and
not retained by Kalny or his firm.
the investigation of Chartraw's complaint was going on,
Officer Hoffmann retained counsel and on March 21, 2016, made
a six-figure demand on the City under threat of litigation.
Based on his investigation of Hoffman's complaint, Kalny
submitted a report to City Administrator Knapp detailing his
preliminary findings and his recommendations on March 25,
2016. The City did not communicate the results of the
investigation or the findings in this report to Hoffmann.
Hoffmann ultimately filed a lawsuit against ...