Friday, June 09, 2006

Witness Testifies About Civil Service Protections from Political Pressure

Next up is Michael Soehner, who works in the Office of State and Employee Relations. He will testify that according to state law and administrative regulations, as well as Thompson's good performance evaluations, she could not have been disciplined or terminated except for just cause. The prosecution has tried to establish that Thompson rigged bids on the travel contract for partisan political reasons and to benefit her employment status.

In direct examination, Hurley asked Soehner what would happen if a political appointee tried to pressure a civil servant into fixing a bidding process. If the employee resisted, it would not be considered "just cause" for punishing or firing the civil servant, Soehner said.

However, Soehner said, if the employee did cave in to the pressure and fix the process, that would be considered just cause for termination.

Hurley asked what would happen if a civil servant was fired because they refused to cooperate with the appointee. "I'd tell them they might as well hire them back because the arbitrator is going to put them back to work anyway," Soehner answered.

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