July 10, 2015
By giving Karen Degges 90 days of paid medical leave, the Jasper County BOC has opened the door for all county employees to receive the same benefit.
Look at some facts about Jasper County’s policies:
- What does the current county policy say about leave?
- How much PTO time does Karen Degges have accumulated? No one can be sure because she never turned in PTO leave even though she took time off frequently.
- What is FMLA—Family Medical Leave Act? Federal laws control FMLA and allow 12 weeks (84 days) of UNPAID medical leave.
4. Does Jasper County have any FMLA policies? They sure do, again it is for UNPAID leave unless an employee has PTO time accumulated.
By giving Karen Degges’ paid medical leave for 90 days, the BOC has gone against county policy and opened the door for all other county employees to take PAID medical leave. They have now set a precedent, and if they don’t allow other employees to have this benefit, their policy is discriminatory.
Does Karen Degges’ contract say she gets paid medical leave? No, and there is no stipulation for severance pay either. Here is a copy of her contract:
Ms. Degges could have easily been fired for violating Section 7.04 of the contract and Section 9.02, in particular harassment of a work colleague among other items in this section. Ms. Degges was not entitled to severance per Section 9.06 of her contract.
The Commissioners’ Attorney has cost Jasper County taxpayers plenty in this ploy. $21,250 for 90 days pay, approximately $1,200 for 3 months health insurance benefits, and (if Karen Degges does have hip surgery) approximately $3000 of the medical insurance deductible the county picks up for each employee. In addition, huge unknown costs of paying up to 90 days of medical leave for other employees.
When a thoroughly corrupt government wants to try and hide something from the public, they exert an all-out effort to misdirect and cover-up. This is what has happened in this case. Instead of coming out of Executive Session and telling everyone they were terminating Ms. Degges and giving her 90 days of severance, this BOC was too gutless for that. They instead made up the “paid medical leave” story and indicated Ms. Degges may be back in 90 days. Comm. Henry was the only one to vote NO to this ploy.
On July 8, 2015, Comm. Pennamon and Mike Benton (now acting County Manager) met with department heads and announced that Karen Degges would not be back because employees were all questioning exactly what happened. However, Comm. Salmon is telling citizens that Karen Degges is on medical leave and he is hoping she is coming back after her surgery.
This BOC has never been honest with the Jasper County citizens, but instead they use telephone calls, emails, and Executive Sessions to hide what they are doing, and this way of doing business is costing the taxpayers dearly.
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