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VOL. 37 | NO. 23 | Friday, June 7, 2013
Judge derails state worker layoffs
NASHVILLE (AP) - A Davidson County judge has issued an order, preventing state government from laying off more than 200 workers this month.
After the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam notified employees they were being laid off, the Tennessee State Employees Association and a group of individual state workers filed suit.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/12CVHzr), Circuit Court Judge Amanda McClendon granted the employees' request for a temporary restraining order on Monday afternoon. She has scheduled a hearing for this coming Monday.
The lawsuit contends the state failed to provide career counseling, job testing and placement efforts, as required by law.
TSEA Executive Director Robert O'Connell said last-minute meetings with state officials, including Human Resources Commissioner Rebecca Hunter, were not fruitful, so the group filed the lawsuit with what O'Connell called great reluctance.
"We don't like to sue the state," O'Connell said. "It was only because we weren't getting anywhere."
Halam's office declined comment. The governor's spokeswoman, Alexia Poe said by email that comment on pending litigation would be inappropriate.
State employees said that on May 9, the Department of Human Resources took down the Neogov online service that employees must use to find job openings and apply for them.
Hiring is now frozen and the site doesn't come back up until June 19. That will be a day after 72 state Labor and Workforce Development workers are scheduled to lose their jobs. They were notified on April 19 that they were being laid off.
There are another 126 workers in the Department of General Services, who were told April 25 they would lose their jobs on June 28. That's because the state is outsourcing management and maintenance of state office buildings to Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate services firm, based in Chicago.
Nashville att orney Larry Woods said the suit seeks to prevent the Haslam administration from dismissing or terminating any state employees in the current reduction-in-force actions "unless they receive 60 days of career counseling, job testing and placement" services.
John McManus, a spokesman for Hunter, said last week that officials took down the website for long-planned "adjustments."
"In preparation, advanced notice of the suspension was provided and the department posted on our website 699 available jobs open for hire," he said in an email.