Augusta personnel board upholds firing

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A former Augusta employee heavily involved in the ongoing reorganization of city government will not get his job back, the city’s personnel board ruled Wednesday.

“I think he had a misunderstanding about what his job description was,” board member J.R. Riles said after the board’s unanimous vote.

The panel took only a few minutes to uphold the termination of former senior compensation analyst Emmanuel Elikwu, an employee since 2009 who was fired in December after a series of incidents involving inaccurate job descriptions, insubordination and allegedly leaking details of the planned reorganization to the news media.

The city’s legal team laid out the details of its case against Elikwu, whose firing staff attorney Kenneth Bray said was “a quintessential example of progressive discipline.”

Elikwu cited a long human resources career and said the characterization “does not reflect the way I operate,” but offered little evidence on his own behalf.

He said after the hearing that he “didn’t know” who had caused the numerous errors in a draft of revised job descriptions provided to staff attorney Jody Smitherman. During the hearing, Elikwu said he was escorted from the building by a sheriff’s deputy and hadn’t had an opportunity to collect evidence.

The mistakes were many, including the addition of college degree requirements for fire department positions that didn’t require them and typographical errors.

“The work that was performed, it was just so horrid it shouldn’t have come back that way,” Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan said.

In the cases of the job descriptions and the leaked details, Elikwu said he had been instructed to “send what you’ve got,” so he did just that.

The decision comes only days after City Administrator Fred Russell said he was dissatisfied with the status quo in Augusta human resources, preferring to outsource the tasks to Automatic Data Processing. The department hasn’t had a director since the August retirement of Rod Powell and had several others resign during 2011.

Elikwu had previously filed a complaint of unfair treatment with the city’s equal employment office. He said the grievance was the reason his colleagues were trying “to run me out.”

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raul 01/19/12 - 02:44 pm
More than likely he will file

More than likely he will file an EEO complaint alledging the termination was based on reprisal for filing a previous complaint. One advantage to a contracted HR function is the contractor has to deal with such issues.

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