County votes not to give terminated employees 2nd chance

Published 12:35 am Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A recommendation from Covington County Commission Chairman Greg White to give department heads and the county administrator the authority to give second chances to former employees who had previously been terminated failed Tuesday.

Currently the language in the personnel policy says that if a person is terminated, he or she may not be hired again by the county.

White proposed that the commission change the language to allow for employees deemed valuable and to have changed their ways by the department head and the county administrator to get a second chance after 24 months.

White said that people change and that their circumstances and other factors may cause the county to be interested in them again.

“I think it’s desirable to give our department heads at least the opportunity to consider if someone has a change and they want to hire someone back,” he said.

County attorney Stephanie Cotton said she had no case law, but her opinion was there would be no issue giving discretion to a department head or administrator.

“The provision may never be used,” Cotton said.

Commissioner Joe Barton disagreed.

Barton said he thought they should draw a hard line.

“This is not our money we are dealing with,” he said.

Barton was not in favor of hiring people who have done drugs or been terminated for stealing.

“This is not an adult daycare,” he said. “If you get caught failing a drug test, I don’t feel sorry for you.”

Barton said the same for stealing.

White argued that the county may hire someone from another employer with the same circumstances.

“I understand wanting to be hard, but I also understand redemption,” he said.

Commissioner Kenneth Northey said that he understands that emotions take over.

“People do wrong,” he said.

Northey said that if the administrator or department heads want to hire someone back, that would be their call.

Northey said he didn’t think they should be hired back the day that they express interest in the job.

He suggested waiting a month to see if they really want the job.

Commissioner Tony Holmes said his view fell close to Barton’s.

“If it’s alcohol, drugs or theft, I have an issue,” he said. “Take those three out, and I’m not so hard-boiled.”

The commission agreed to keep the policy as it currently is.