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lying on application(s)
July 14, 2009 at 11:28 am #75678
NOT directly related to US Federal applications but interesting to see other entities are addressing the issue...
Also interesting to see the time-lapse between the application and the "termination"
From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Pittsburgh's Department of Public Works suspends no-tell payrollers
Six accused of denying felonies on job applications; unions call action 'outrageous'
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh's Department of Public Works moved to fire six workers yesterday, accusing them of lying on job applications by denying past felony convictions.
The six are suspended without pay for five days. "They have until [Friday] to tell us why they shouldn't be terminated," said Operations Director Art Victor. If they can't make a compelling case, he said, they're gone.
The Pittsburgh Joint Collective Bargaining Committee issued a statement strongly condemning the moves.
"The conduct of the city is outrageous and irresponsible," the umbrella group of trades unions said in the statement. "It has terminated many employees who have provided decades of exemplary service to the city, in a knee-jerk reaction designed only for public relations purposes."
The unions will seek to have the workers reinstated and repaid any lost wages.
The suspensions come as the department deals with accusations of inconsistency in a lawsuit by former city heavy equipment operator Paul J. Grguras, terminated in 2007 when the city concluded that on a 1999 application he didn't reveal guilty pleas from the 1980s. The Post-Gazette explored discipline in the department in a story Sunday.
The timing "is coincidental," said Mr. Victor. "These six came up as a result of [an information] request from another news outlet" that asked to see applications filed by 20 felons, he said.
"We had to investigate everybody on that list," he said. The city called up records of their crimes, and moved to fire those who hadn't disclosed them.
Threatened with the ax are Mallory A. Craig, 49, a sweeper operator hired by the city in 1989; Mario J. Cutruzzula, 49, a laborer hired in 1999; Carl A. Huntley, 39, a laborer hired in 2004; Joseph A. McCoullum, 26, a truck driver hired in 2005; Richard M. Shiloh, 52, a painter hired in 2003; and Quint R. Weaver, 41, a tree pruner hired in 2001.
"We looked at their applications. They all checked 'no,'" for past felony convictions, Mr. Victor said.
The bargaining committee said the city "has relied upon incorrect and incomplete information and has targeted only one group of employees in a limited number of departments."
Teamsters Local 249 Vice President Joe Rossi, who represents Mr. McCoullum, said he filed a grievance yesterday and would take the matter to arbitration.
"When is somebody's debt to society paid?" asked Mr. Rossi. "Where do we draw the line?"
Mr. McCoullum got one year of probation after pleading guilty in 2003 to attempting to manufacture or deliver drugs.
Mr. Craig pleaded guilty to terroristic threats and got two years probation in 1991.
Mr. Cutruzzula's 1998 guilty plea to food stamp fraud got him seven years probation.
Mr. Huntley pleaded guilty in 2003 to felony drug charges, and got one year of probation. While a city worker, he pleaded guilty in 2007 to a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge and got another year of probation.
Mr. Weaver got one year of probation for aggravated assault in 2000.
Mr. Shiloh pleaded guilty to 110 drug charges in 1996. His sentence could not be determined yesterday.
The city doesn't bar felons from getting jobs, a policy Mayor Luke Ravenstahl defended yesterday.
"You have to consider everybody's circumstances, and where they're at in life, and if they're rehabilitated and good employees," he said. "We consider those that may have had past records, and we do so carefully. I think in many cases we've hired people that, while they may have had a previous history, proved to be good, quality employees."
Mr. Grguras' lawsuit claims the city unfairly refused to return him to work after charges were dropped for allegedly possessing stolen inspection stickers and guns he isn't allowed to own. He was fired, city officials said, because he failed to disclose felonies from the 1980s on an application.
His complaint cites another employee who the city fired for failing to fully disclose a felony, but who is now back at work.
The union umbrella group also accused the city of inconsistency, saying in its statement that the city "has also failed to review the records of department heads, managers and supervisors, and has failed to take action against such personnel."
Councilwoman Darlene Harris, who chairs the Public Works Committee, noted that council can't hire, fire or write personnel policies, but said the city "should have policies in place and the city should follow them.
"When you have policies and you enforce policies, it to me reflects fairness, best practices, and fosters good work ethic in the ranks."
July 14, 2009 at 11:37 am #75682
Henry, You beat me to it! This is my home-town paper! Being the big union town that Pittsburgh is, this will likely get a large amount of publicity. What they miss is that having paid their debt to society has nothing to do with it...lying on their application is the issue, and even if they applied 20 years ago, they may have gotten that job ahead of another qualified applicant as the result of the lie at that time.
August 17, 2009 at 11:57 am #75680
Some fired Pittsburgh Public Works employees brought back
Six had been let go for failing to disclose felony convictions
Saturday, August 15, 2009
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Several of the six Pittsburgh Department of Public Works employees who were fired last month when city officials alleged they failed to disclose felonies on job applications are returning to work, officials said yesterday.
Already back is Quint R. Weaver, a 41-year-old tree pruner fired in the media-spurred purge after the city concluded that he was convicted of aggravated assault in 2000. "His felony conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor, and he was able to prove that," said city Operations Director Art Victor.
He was off work for only six days, returning July 21, and acting Personnel Director Judy Hill Finegan said it isn't yet clear whether he'll get back pay.
Returning soon is Carl A. Huntley, 39, a laborer, according to a spokesman for the Pittsburgh Joint Collective Bargaining Committee. His convictions appear to have occurred after his hire.
Teamsters Local 249 Vice President Joe Rossi said Mallory A. Craig, 49, a sweeper operator, also is returning soon following a Thursday grievance hearing.
"He didn't have a felony conviction," said Mr. Rossi. A terroristic threats case "was plea-bargained down from a felony to a misdemeanor." He said Mr. Craig would get around a month of back pay.
Mr. Victor could not confirm Mr. Craig's return to work.
The other three workers terminated in mid-July are still off of the city payroll while their grievances are being heard. Mr. Rossi said the city "should do its due diligence, research and background checks" on job candidates, but should not punish established employees for failures to disclose long-ago crimes.
The workers were fired months after a WTAE-TV reporter brought the city evidence suggesting they had felony convictions that they hadn't disclosed.
The city asks job applicants whether they have been convicted of felonies, and has fired some when it concludes that they lied. The city faces a lawsuit alleging inconsistent treatment filed by Paul J. Grguras, terminated in 2007 when the city concluded that he did not reveal 1980s felonies on a 1999 application.
The city moved to fire the six workers the day after the Post-Gazette explored Mr. Grguras' case and concerns about the lack of disciplinary policies in the Department of Public Works. That story did not mention any of the six fired employees.
That story did explore the case of Harry P. Bersani, fired in February after police charged him and another worker in the sale of a motorcycle found in the weeds of Sheraden Park. Criminal charges against him were dropped in June, but he was not promptly allowed to return to work, and he filed a grievance.
Mr. Victor said he returned to work Aug. 5. Ms. Hill Finegan said he's getting $12,549.91 in back pay.
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