Sunday, September 21, 2008

Foster Arnett Violates Two Federal Laws

This past Thursday I appeared at the Knox County Clerk's office to examine 7 documents that I requested to view through the Open Records Act. When the folder was opened 2 of the documents were the job change forms for County Clerk employees Carol Ellis and Sharon Ellis. I requested that the form of Sharon Ellis be photocopied and I paid $1 for the copy.

The other 5 documents were the Separation notices for the employees that Arnett dismissed on Tuesday September 2, 2008. His first day on the job. As I looked at the first of five, I noticed that Arnett had left the Social Security numbers visible. The Clerk's office is supposed to redact or remove this information for the privacy of the employee(s). I requested that the forms of George Stooksbury and Rodney Lane be photocopied. I paid $2 for the copies that I received.

Immediately upon leaving the Clerk's office. I telephoned Joe Jarret the Chief Deputy of the Knox County Law Director's office and left him a voicemail alerting him to this incident. I then telephoned several of the individuals to inform them that the Clerk had NOT protected their identity as required by Federal law. Mr. Jarret returned my call during lunch and as I enjoyed lunch with an associate (who overheard my end of the conversation) I explained what had occurred and that I was contacting the affected former employees. In an email or two with Mr. Jarret about unrelated business. I revisited this breach of identity protection and reiterated my obligation to contact the former employees.

Now in addition to violating these employees right to protect themselves from breaches of personal information.

What I discovered on the Separation Notice troubles me and everyone that I have mentioned it to. The reason given for the dismissal of the 5 employees states "Dismissed as a result of election of new County Clerk. Permanent." This is hand written on the form and every indication is that it is in Foster Arnett's handwriting.

It is a violation of Federal law to change the employment of or to dismiss employees because of an election. Does Clerk Arnett not recall that his mentor and former boss, Mayor Victor Ashe was found Guilty of violating the Federal Civil Rights of some Knoxville firefighters following an election?

Here is a scan of the George Stooksbury Separation notice. Brian's Blog has accomplished on this scan what Clerk Arnett was unable to do. We redacted, actually we cut the personal information to protect Mr. Stooksbury.

On the employment status change forms for Carol Ellis and Sharon Ellis it states "Reorganization made by new county clerk." This appears to be in Foster Arnett's hand writing as well. It indicates that this change was made as a result of the election and would also to a layman's perspective to violate Federal law as well. Their salaries were cut by a third.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It sounds more and more like Mr. Arnett is unfit for the office he holds. I have to wonder who voted for him???