NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to lay off more than 200 state workers this month struck a pothole today when a Davidson County judge signed a temporary restraining order after state employees filed suit charging top officials violated worker guarantees under state law.
Circuit Court Judge Amanda McClendon granted the request and has scheduled a hearing for Monday in the case, said attorney Larry Woods, who is representing the Tennessee State Employees Association and a group of individual state workers.
The suit says Haslam, state Human Resources Commissioner Rebecca Hunter and other
officials are running afoul of a provision that a 60-day notice be given prior to termination in order to give employees “career counseling, job testing, and placement efforts.”
Officials with the TSEA as well as several state employees have told the Times Free Press in recent days no such assistance is being provided.
That’s because Human Resources officials on or around May 9 took down its online jobs register, Neogov, and froze any actions on listing new positions and hiring until June 19. The department says it took down the site to make changes including implementation of new state salary schedules.
But TSEA Executive Director Robert O’Connell said in recent interviews that has hurt affected workers’ ability to find and apply for other jobs within state government.
The suit says “plaintiffs have not received any career counseling, job testing or placement assistance.”
The suit says on April 19, the state notified 72 full-time employees in the Department of Labor and Workforce their jobs were gone because of restructuring in state career centers due to lack of funding.
Their last day of work is June 18, the day before the Neogov register is slated to reopen.
Meanwhile, 126 employees in General Services are losing their state jobs after building operations and maintenance were outsourced in April to a Chicago-based real estate services firm under a new contract.
Their last day is June 28.
The suit seeks a permanent injunction in a final judgment barring layoffs without notice and hearing as well as “without concurrently listing open state jobs that said employees may apply for and seek and without providing counseling, placement and testing for said employees” as required for the 60-day period.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...