Macon-Bibb settles with two landfill employees over ‘wrongful termination’
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon-Bibb County’s Landfill seems to be full of more problems than trash. Now, the county dump has left the city with a few bills including settlement payments to two former employees.
Two former landfill workers will walk away with their hands clean after the county settled with them over claims of wrongful termination.
“It was a termination that was appealed by the employees. They didn’t feel that their termination was justified,” said Mayor Robert Reichert.
Former Assistant Solid Waste Director Larry Dunning and Landfill Supervisor Lee Stringer were fired in June of 2015 after several failed Department of Natural Resources inspections.
“We received some violations from the EPD and as a reaction, Mr. Stringer and Mr. Dunning were both terminated from the county,” Commissioner Virgil Watkins recalled.
The two challenged their firing and an administrative law judge ruled in their favor.
“He basically found that yes there were grounds for discipline, but he disagreed with the extent of the discipline. He thought that termination was too harsh,” said Reichert.
But, the county came back with an appeal of its own. “We appealed to a superior court, but we kept open negotiations and were able to resolve the matter by settling before the superior court judge made a ruling,” Reichert continued.
The settlement granted Dunning $63,856 and Stringer $34,334–all coming out of county general funds, which includes property tax and sales tax dollars.
“We’ve agreed to accept their retirement and would provide them with back pay for the time they would’ve been working.”
Though it’s finally over, Mayor Reichert says he believes there’s a lesson to be taken from this.
“Appropriate documentation of course is one and giving employees the tools they need, so that they don’t have something say ‘oh I would’ve done better if I only had this or if I’d only had that’. So yes, we’ve learned from this and I would certainly hope and expect that we’d only do better moving forward.”
Reichert added that they weren’t necessarily ‘happy’ about the settlement but the commission felt it was an ‘appropriate resolution’ and were glad they could get the issue resolved through a mutual agreement.
The commission voted and approved the settlement agreement to both former employees at tonight’s meeting at City Hall.