City employee appeals termination

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By The Staff

SHEPHERDSVILLE - Michael Schroeder was hired in 1996 to work at the Shepherdsville wastewater treatment plant.

Over the course of the past seven years, the treatment plant’s operation was recognized by the state and Schroeder was honored nationally last year.

However, as of Feb. 1, 2010, Schroeder was dismissed from his duties as supervisor of the treatment plant.

Now, the three-member civil service commission will begin hearing testimony and will rule on Schroeder’s appeal of the disciplinary action.

Schroeder appeared Tuesday with attorneys Thomas Clay and Mark Hall to set out the process of hearing the claims.

Commissioner chairman J.E. Lee felt the purpose of the initial meeting was to get the hearing schedule in line.

Attorney Jim Winchell, who will represent the city, said he only recently received the file and was not intending on starting any testimony Tuesday.

Clay felt the proceedings were going to start and he would not waive any time deadlines imposed by the civil service ordinance.

The official proceedings will begin on Tuesday, March 2, at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

The question on what the termination was based puzzled Clay.

“I don’t see any facts in this notice...on what we will defend against,” said Clay.

In a letter dated Jan. 22, 2010, Mayor Sherman Tinnell stated that Schroeder’s demotion in October 2009 had been rescinded and he would return with full back pay.

However, in the next sentence, Tinnell said “your job performance and conduct during my tenure have been unacceptable....”

Tinnell listed several portions of the civil service ordinance as violations, such as authority and responsibility; conduct toward supervisors and subordinates; obedience to others; unbecoming conduct; truthfulness; and soliciation of outside assistance.

He suspended Schroeder on Jan. 22 and ordered him to turn over all city property.

On Feb. 1, he would be officially terminated.

Following the hearing, Clay could only speculate on why his client was demoted and then reinstated with back pay, only to be suspended and fired, all in the same letter.

The attorney said it is still a case of violation of the whistleblower’s act as Schroeder is punished because he mentioned a concern about raw sewage on the ground.

‘There’s no facts here of support their case,” Clay said of the termination letter.

There was nothing in his personnel file noting any job performance issues, according to Clay, and his client was denied due process under the civil service ordinance after the first demotion.

Clay also speculated that Schroeder was the last supervisor remaining from the past administration and it was only a matter of time before they found a way to get rid of the treatment plant operator.

In addition, Clay said there is evidence that the city is not following the hiring processes set up under the civil service ordinance.

Schroeder said he knew he wasn’t liked by the new administration.

“It’s a hostile work environment,” said Schroeder. “But I have to support my family.”

If offered his position back, Schroeder said he would return.

Days after notifying the city of the sewage issue, Schroeder said environmental officials were in the city to conduct an investigation.

“I don’t understand it,” said Schroeder. “It’s rough.”