Metro to crack down on nepotism, ethics for workers

WASHINGTON — Metro is beefing up ethics, anti-nepotism and social media policies in what an internal memo to employees calls a change that will be “strictly and consistently enforced.”

The message from Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld sent Tuesday said the new rules “include a complete prohibition on nepotism.”

The memo clarifies that nepotism involves relatives reporting through the same chain of command or attempts to influence recruitment and hiring practices in favor of relatives or friends.

Metro employees at all levels will also be required to submit written disclosures of conflicts of interests and will be banned from accepting gifts from “interested parties.”

Metro is also instituting a new social media policy that would govern what workers can post both at work and outside of work hours.

After years of procurement problems, a new financial integrity policy “will provide standards of business honesty and integrity in all business dealings and transactions.”

The exact details of the policies are expected to be sent to employees over the next few weeks.

“The policies, our standards of conduct, will be strictly and consistently enforced by every member of the executive team. Not knowing the policies will not be a defense. Discipline for violating Metro’s standards of conduct include tough consequences up to and including termination of employment,” the memo said.

Wiedefeld’s message said supervisors have “an even higher degree of responsibility,” and must “pay particular attention to the prohibition against retaliation in any form.”

A Metro employee sued this month over sexual harassment and retaliation. Metro has not yet responded to the claims.

The Metro’s board of directors is scheduled to meet Thursday to take up urgent safety issues, including last month’s derailment on the Silver Line.

Since then, the Federal Transit Administration has released the findings of two investigations. One found that track inspectors and maintenance workers were failing to do their jobs.

Follow up inspections have found significant problems on the tracks that must be addressed and have led to changes to Metro’s ongoing accelerated repair schedule.

Metro Transit Police have opened a criminal investigation into the derailment.

Since taking the helm of the beleaguered transit agency, Wiedefeld has faced the enormous task of rebuilding the Metrorail system after decades of deferred or limited maintenance plus changing the culture and work ethic of employees. Under Wiedefeld, Metro has eliminated 500 staff positions, let go 20 managers and fired a train operator who almost hit track inspectors and nearly collided with another train.

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