Monday, March 23, 2009
City of Bryan responds to hearing examiner’s decision
Although disappointed with the outcome, the City of Bryan is complying with a ruling from third-party hearing examiner Don Hays to reinstate Sgt. Steve French. The City is reviewing options, including Mr. Hays’ ruling of paying the salary French would have earned while on suspension.
City Manager David Watkins and Deputy City Manager Hugh Walker said Monday they reviewed the decision and are confident that proper procedures were followed according to local civil service rules and according to advice provided by outside legal counsel Bettye Lynn, who is considered to be a leading expert in civil service law in Texas.
Bryan’s Local Civil Service Rules (Section 143.003 (11)) state that the director of civil service “includes his or her designee.” The rule was approved by the Bryan Civil Service Commission, which is composed of a group of Bryan residents, as allowed for within the state civil service regulations (Section 143.008). Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code provides that a local civil service commission may adopt rules to fill in gaps as long as local rules do not conflict with state rules.
The City’s Human Resources Manager, who also serves as civil service director, was notified that she might be called as a witness in the French case. Due to a potential conflict of interest, Bryan’s HR Manager, upon the advice of outside legal counsel and authorized by City officials, designated her role as “director” in the French case to the City Secretary, formally in writing.
“We followed the rules,” Watkins said. “And it’s unfortunate that now, because of this ruling, which we believe is incorrect, the allegations that led to Sgt. French’s firing will not be thoroughly resolved.”
Lynn said she, too, was disappointed by Hays’ decision.
“I do not believe, as a matter of law, that it is a correct ruling,” she said.
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