The New Orleans City Council urged Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration Thursday to conduct a sexual harassment survey within City Hall in the wake of a series of recent complaints about unseemly behavior in city offices. 

Members also directed the Civil Service Commission to investigate whether men and women in City Hall are paid equally for their work, an inquiry former Mayor Mitch Landrieu considered undertaking last year but didn’t execute.

The moves were proposed by City Councilwoman Helena Moreno, and supported later by Cantrell's administration. 

"It is imperative that we gain a true understanding as to what is happening at City Hall regarding sexual harassment," Moreno said. 

It’s the council’s second move to curb inappropriate behavior in city government, after it passed rules Moreno introduced to prevent harassment in June. Cantrell has also been working to clean up what she called a “cesspool” of harassment in some city offices.

Moreno proposed the survey after The New Orleans Advocate revealed last month that seven complaints about sexual harassment within City Hall have been investigated since April.

One complaint led to the ouster of two supervisors in the city’s Property Management Department and the retirement of a third. Herman Hogues, that department's operations manager, admitted in a July interview with The Advocate that he let female subordinates "booty pop" for him in his office. 

Some of the other probes involve a pest-control inspector exposing himself to a female colleague, alleged sex between a 33-year-old supervisor and his 17-year-old subordinate at Stallings St. Claude Recreation Center, and a male employee of Harrell Playground requesting racy pictures from his female colleague. 

The survey, which will be conducted by Cantrell's chief administrative office, will look into how improper behavior is handled by city supervisors, and employees’ knowledge of the rules that bar it.

Employees will be allowed to give anonymous responses to the survey, which will be administered in 2019. 

No later than three months after its release and depending on its findings, CAO Gilbert Montaño's office will work with city offices to develop action plans to address problems. 

The wage-gap study, meanwhile, is a response to various research that finds women are underpaid locally and across the state compared to men. A study from Tulane University found that full-time female employees in New Orleans are paid a fifth less than their male counterparts. 

The Civil Service Commission will examine whether those gaps extend to employees at City Hall, and recommend ways to close any gender gaps, if they are discovered. 

It will also recommend ways to give city employees recourse if they suspect they are the targets of pay discrimination. 

Though Landrieu looked into such a pay disparity study last year, it was never launched, officials said. 


Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA​.