By Benjamin Diaz / Staff Writer
Representing terminated employee Roberta Maroney in a grievance against LBCC, the classified employees union’s executive board voted Wednesday, July 2, to pay for her share of arbitration fees, which could be around $7,500.
Maroney was at the end of a six-month probation period as a Financial Aid specialist and said she was dismissed unexpectedly Dec. 18 by her supervisor Ruth MacCullen, deputy director of enrollment services, with no reasons given.
The grievance, filed on Maroney’s behalf, alleges a violation of the contract between the college and the classified union in that Maroney never received a five-month evaluation by MacCullen. The grievance also stated that after her dismissal, “Maroney discovered a fraudulent evaluation that was placed in her personnel file without her knowledge.” Only MacCullen’s signature is on the evaluation that has a date of Dec. 18 or 19. MacCullen was in a one-year probationary period at that time.
In the five-month evaluation, MacCullen states in detail that Maroney “failed to look up and provide accurate information to students about the status of their Financial Aid” and that she did not follow office protocol by not asking students to show ID, that this led to her having to intercede with students when they were confused and hostile.
MacCullen also writes, “I spoke with you about your monitoring of staff and informed you that it was not your responsibility to monitor others.” MacCullen states that Maroney continued to do so and Maroney’s “only response was to huff and sigh” and that she was unable to take constructive criticism.
The grievance cites that employees who are to receive a negative evaluation are to be informed 24 hours in advance and have the right to representation and that Maroney never received such notice.
At a Personnel Commission meeting April 7, Director of Human Resources Julie Kossick answered questions regarding who has access to personnel files and how an erroneous document could end up in a personnel file. Kossick described a system of tracking who originated documents, where they’re to be sent, the type of documents allowed in a file and double-checking. She said, “We don’t get too many off-the-wall documents.” Later in the meeting, Kossick declined to comment specifically on Maroney’s file or grievance citing confidentiality.
In the initial denial of the grievance, the union says that no reasons were given for the dismissal and only that Rose Delgaudio, Vice President of Human Resources, offered one-month’s salary to Maroney as a settlement, which was rejected. Union representatives then asked to move the grievance to level two and asked if Delgaudio would like to comment on the lack of reasoning. In an email from Delgaudio to the union representative, her only response was to go ahead and move it to level two appeal of the decision. Delgaudio was unavailable for comment.
In response to the appeal, the college’s position, maintained by Vice President of Student Services Greg Petersen, was that Maroney’s release was permitted by Personnel Commission rules and regulations “a probationary employee may be dismissed at any time.” Addressing the issue of a five-month evaluation, Petersen wrote that aspect of the contract “does not trump the Personnel Commission rules.”
The union’s position cites that the evaluation of employees is for the purpose of career development.
The process moved forward to level three, mediation, where a neutral party attempts to help both sides to reach an agreement. A mediator makes no decision, only facilitates a mutual agreement. No agreement was reached, which brought the case to level four of the grievance process. On Monday, July 7, formal papers were filed with Delgaudio to begin the arbitration process.