Iowa manager to retire after inquiry found hostile workplace

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa administrator is planning to retire after a state investigation blamed her for creating a hostile work environment for judges who rule on unemployment benefits disputes.

Newly filed records show that Emily Chafa, chief of the unemployment insurance appeals bureau at Iowa Workforce Development, was abruptly removed from the building March 8 and kept on paid leave for one month.

In April, the investigation concluded that Chafa had treated subordinates “disrespectfully and discourteously which has created an uncomfortable, unprofessional work environment.” She was given the equivalent of a three-day suspension and ordered to make changes.

Chafa disputes the finding and is appealing her discipline, saying the state hasn’t given specifics of her alleged inappropriate behavior. Earlier this month, her attorney complained that Chafa has been locked out of her email and office while on vacation ahead of a July 11 retirement date.

For months, Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend and her staff had refused to confirm the removal, leave and investigation of Chafa.