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Two city workers appeal firing

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Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 4:30 am

Two city employees who were fired last week appealed their terminations with the city of Killeen on Tuesday, saying they were not given the due process city policy stipulates regarding employee terminations.

Killeen’s former finance director, Barbara Gonzales, and former fleet services technician John Acker were terminated Dec. 12, after two months on paid leave during an investigation of the Fleet Services Division.

In previous statements, a city spokesperson said the investigation uncovered mismanagement and misappropriation of city time and equipment in the city’s Fleet Services Division, which maintains all city-owned vehicles.

As a result of the investigation, two other city employees left their jobs. Fleet Services Director Kim Randall retired and fleet services technician David Riddle resigned, giving up their rights to appeal.

Appeal hearings for Gonzales and Acker will be held before the city’s Personnel Hearing Board, which consists of five noncivil service employees who are not related to any city employee.

Frederick Bee, Leonard Gulig, Rosa Hereford and Brockley Moore currently serve on the board the board; one seat is vacant.

According to city policy, an appeal hearing cannot be held within 10 business days of the appeal filing, but no period of time is specified when the hearings must be held.

Standing in front of City Hall on Tuesday, Gonzales held a copy of the letter from City Manager Glenn Morrison stating the reasons for her termination.

The document said she was terminated because of “past issues” and that the city manager had “lost confidence” in her ability to run her department — an insufficient explanation for the city employee of 14 years, she said.

“The explanation that was given was not clear,” Gonzales said

“I need due process. I just need (the city) to tell me why.”

Gonzales said she was never given a verbal or written reprimand.

“It is not clear as to what past issues are being referenced,” Gonzales said.

Acker, who worked for the city for 18 years, said he felt he had been discriminated against in the process of his termination.

“I was given one minute to decide: be terminated or retire,” Acker said.“They fired me wrong. I want to get my fair due process.”

City spokeswoman Hilary Shine said, “All actions were taken in accordance with city personnel policy.”

Quoting the city’s personnel policy, Shine said, “Depending on the facts and circumstances involved in each situation, supervisors may choose to begin corrective action at any step up to and including immediate dismissal.”

Both employees have retained a lawyer and have chosen to hold their appeal hearings in public.

“I want everybody to know,” Acker said. “This closed-doors stuff is for the birds.”

The city has not yet released the full documents from the investigation, and the Herald has requested access to the documents, under the Public Information Act, Texas Government Code Chapter 552.

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3 comments:

  • Viktor posted at 2:25 am on Wed, Mar 20, 2013.

    Viktor Posts: 319

    Texas is a right to work state? So that makes it okay to terminate employees that don't go along with the good ole boy system in this city & question or report misconduct within city departments? Killeen sure does hold on to the employees that go with the flow & play the game. But look out if you report misuse of city fleet services or refuse to reimburse a city manager's $10K dinner which includes purchases of alcohol that are not reimbursable by policy. Let's keep it real. At will firing of an employee isn't an excuse for abusive employment practices.

     
  • texasgoat posted at 3:43 pm on Wed, Dec 19, 2012.

    texasgoat Posts: 74

    Texas is a right to work state. Don't be so surprised that an employer can dismiss you without cause.

     
  • Eliza posted at 8:49 am on Wed, Dec 19, 2012.

    Eliza Posts: 1093

    @ Both employees have retained a lawyer and have chosen to hold their appeal hearings in public.
    “I want everybody to know,” Acker said. “This closed-doors stuff is for the birds.”-----


    If the decision of the people involved is to take their arguement
    to a public forum, instead of behind closed doors, and that is their legal right.
    They should be allowed that justly due. Let the facts be told.