Alexandria's Human Rights Commission decided in a closed meeting last week that it lacked jurisdiction to hold a hearing into a sexual harassment complaint filed against three city employes, including former city manager Douglas Harman, the commission's chairman said yesterday.
Jeanne Connell, the chairman, said the panel is expected ask tonight that its administrator investigate the 1983 allegations by budget analyst Elizabeth McKenna and management analyst Patricia Enneking.
The women charged in February, when Harman left to become city manager in Fort Worth, that their initial complaint was not properly investigated in a "planned effort to keep the incident quiet." They asked the commission for a hearing to air their concerns.
In its meeting last week, the 13-member commission found that it did not have jurisdiction to hold the hearing but decided that Human Rights Administrator Stephen M. Levinson has the authority to investigate, Connell said.
"We think that's good," said the women's attorney, Michael Leibig. "Our main concern is that the commission look at the problems of sexual harassment that were raised in the 1983 complaint."
In October 1983 McKenna and Enneking filed charges of sexual harassment against former city planning director Engin Artemal after a city conference in Williamsburg. Artemal was reprimanded with a "financial penalty and an administrative sanction," according to Harman.
The complaint had also alleged that Harman and Deputy City Manager Bradford Hammer dismissed Artemal's behavior as not serious during the conference and the following day one of them referred to the incident in a joking manner.
"The acts of approval and encouragement, or at least the failure to condemn and reprimand the offending employe Artemal . . . constituted a failure . . . to protect Ms. Enneking and Ms. McKenna . . . from sexual harassment," the women said in February.
The women alleged that Levinson, a Harman appointee, took the 1983 complaint to the city's then personnel director Robert Burnett, who treated it as a personnel matter. The women said they believed they were making a complaint under the city's Human Rights Code and that Levinson should have investigated the case himself to see if there was probable cause.
Levinson said yesterday he would have no comment until he had seen the finding.