CHAPEL HILL – Town Manager Roger Stancil has upheld another firing challenged by a former town employee despite the Personnel Appeals Committee’s recommendation to reverse the decision.
Kevin “Lee” Thompson was fired on October 1, 2012 after multiple written warnings of wrongdoings. The final one—and the one gaining the most attention—is from July 30 of that year when Thompson removed a fallen tree limb from private property of the State Employees Credit Union on Pittsboro Street in Chapel Hill. He removed that limb while on the clock for the Town, and while using Town-owned equipment, including a chainsaw and truck in which it was hauled away.
In a memorandum from Stancil to Thompson in which he announces his decision, according to Stancil’s own investigation, Thompson stated in a hearing in front of the Personnel Appeals Committee that the limb was between the sidewalk of the bus stop and the right-of-way of the credit union, not on private property. He also stated that he did not profit from the service and that he did not have a deal with the bank manager.
The memorandum goes on to say that the investigation found that Thompson was in fact paid $2,500 by the Credit Union for that service plus a return trip the following weekend to finish the job. Thompson owns a private tree service he used on the weekend; the Credit Union is a regular customer of Thompson’s.
Stancil states he was able to take his investigation further than the citizen-run Appeals Committee was able to which resulted in the additional findings.
Thompson claims that he was not fired because of wrongdoings, but instead for racial reasons and retaliation of ill will built up against Thompson since he joined a union.
Thompson and two other former town employees, Kerry Bigelow and Clyde Clark—also union members, were fired after an investigation and subsequent recommendation by Raleigh-based human resources and compliance agency, Capital Associated Industries said the recommendations of the employees’ supervisors were accurate. In a statement, the Town stated the Human Resources Development Director decided it would be fair to the investigation to hire the outside agency since the HRD had already investigated allegations brought forward by Bigelow.
Attempts to reach Thompson’s attorney, Al McSurely, as well as Town of Chapel Hill representatives were not immediately returned.
Discharged Town Employees Get Hearing – Kerry Bigelow and Clyde Clark