Fired state worker shocked at treatment of other troubled employ - News, Weather & Sports

Fired state worker shocked at treatment of other troubled employees

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – If you were a business owner would you pay workers you're going to fire not to work, but refuse to pay workers you've fired even after they've won their appeal? It may sound confusing, but that's you're doing if you're a Kentucky taxpayer.

"I was shocked," said Steve Owens.

That was Owens' reaction when he watched our investigative reports on Kentucky state government paying workers not to work. He wishes he were one of the 158 state employees paid to stay home after allegations of wrongdoing:

  • 95 of them on paid leave over a month
  • 48 for over two months
  • 21 over three months
  • And ten from four months to ten months

[PREVIOUS STORY: Kentucky regularly pays workers not to work]

Over the past two years, Kentucky doled out a total of 5,133 days in paid leave.

"I said I have a right to file a grievance," said Owens. "I feel like this is unfair, brand new policy."

[PREVIOUS STORY: Details provided on Kentucky's paid-to-stay-home cases]

When Owens, a court designated worker, questioned a new policy emailed out in the Juvenile Services department, the 17 year tenured veteran was suspended September 12 and then terminated the next day for being "disrespectful and insubordinate."

"He said, ‘you're fired, no longer work with the Administrative Office of the Courts,'" said Owens. "I said I thought I was suspended. He said ‘you no longer work with AOC.'"

Five months later, the Dismissal Appeal Board found in Owens' favor. In their ruling the board concluded: 

  • "Mr. Owens should not have been terminated within a day for the same behavior for which he was suspended." 
  • "He had the suspension letter less than a day before he was terminated, providing no time for him to address his behavior." 
  • Because of the lack of "previous discipline and/or negative evaluation scores or other documented issues, the recommendation of the Hearing Panel is that Mr. Owens be reinstated to his former position but suspended for the first two days of employment and receive salary and benefits dating back to the termination date."

The AOC director replied, "I disagree. Your dismissal is affirmed."

"I appealed it. I won the appeal," Owens said. "Their recommendation was I should get my job back, and the director overruled me and said she disagrees with the recommendation. And all this time I'm not getting paid anything."

The AOC declined an interview, but in an email a public information officer said immediate dismissal is warranted in situations involving egregious behavior, and individual circumstances determine whether the person receives back pay. She also said the Dismissal Appeal Board only provides a recommendation, while the AOC director makes the final decision.

As for the difference in treatment when it comes to the way the state handles workers in trouble, she said there is no single personnel policy for all of Kentucky state government, and it's inaccurate to compare one branch of state government with another one.

Copyright 2013 WAVE News. All rights reserved.

SIDEBAR - Paid To Stay Home 2


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