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   AZCPOA has another update for you about COII Letona’s case.  You may recall Letona was an uncovered Sergeant when ADC gave him the ultimatum to either “voluntarily demote” or be dismissed “for no reason.”  Letona opted to voluntarily demote to keep his job so that he could feed his family.  Then ADC sprung a second nasty surprise. ADC decided that would also place Letona on “original probation” even though he had demoted to a covered position of COII.   Not surprisingly, three months later ADC fired Letona from “original probation” because he used OC spray to fend off an inmate’s aggression.

   ADC’s dismissal letter to Letona advised him that he had no appeal rights because he was on original probation.  AZCPOA lawyers reviewed the matter and it was clear that ADC could not legally place Letona on “original probation” given that he had worked at ADC for nearly 10 years and was working in a Covered position as a COII.   AZCPOA lawyers appealed the dismissal to the Arizona State Personnel Board.  

   At the board hearing ADC argued that it could make its own “original probation” policies even if they conflict with State Law and ADOA personnel rules.  The Personnel Board ruled for ADC that Letona was on probation and was thus not entitled to an appeal.  We appealed to Superior Court.

   The Superior Court judge was not fooled by ADC’s ridiculous claims.  The judge found that ADC’s policy wrongly contradicted the ADOA personnel rules.  The judge ruled that Letona was not on original probation and was, in fact, a COII covered by the personnel rules.  The judge ordered the Arizona State Personnel Board to grant Letona a hearing and awarded attorneys fees and costs against ADC!

    After the judge entered the order, AZCPOA brought the matter to Director Ryan at the last “meet and confer.”   AZCPOA pointed out that ADC had shafted a number of employees with the same  voluntary demotion and “original probation” business that the judge found to be illegal.  AZCPOA asked Director Ryan to notify all affected employees that they were no longer on “Original Probation.”     Director Ryan declined.  You can read all about it in the November 3, 2016 AZCPOA Meet & Confer Meeting  minutes Director Ryan sent to all employees a couple of weeks ago.

   But focusing  on Answer 2 of the November 3, 2016 minutes you can clearly see that ADC would not agree to notify its own employees who were illegally placed on original probation status!  Instead ADC offered a weasel  word answer, that if employees felt they could appeal then they were free to do so!  When AZCPOA representatives pressed the issue about why ADC thought it appropriate to place a 10 year employee on original probation, ADC passed the buck and blamed ADOA “guidance.”

   ADC also advised that it was still considering whether to appeal the ruling so that any other action would be ‘premature’.  It’s been nearly a month since the Meet and Confer.  ADC’s tough talk at the Meet and Confer has turned into surrender.  ADC has decided not to appeal.  ADC sent a check to pay for AZCPOA’s attorneys’  fees and ADC has scheduled Letona’s hearing at the Personnel Board. 

   You know what still has not happened?  ADC still has not advised all those officers who took a voluntary demotion and got tagged with “original probation” that they are NOT ON PROBATION ANYMORE!!!!   And to all those folks, AZCPOA says, “You’re Welcome!”

   We’ll keep you updated as Letona’s case moves forward at the Personnel Board!

UPDATES

   An update on Sgt Salazar….. As you might recall, Sgt Salazar was the victim of a brutal assault in the Cimarron Unit in Tucson when a dozen inmates opened their own cell doors and attacked him.  Sgt Salazar was so severely injured that he has been out on industrial leave for nearly a year recovering from the attack.  He needs a couple more clearances from his doctors and hopes to return to work in the next few months.

      
   
Adding insult to injury, Sgt Salazar got a nasty surprise from ADOA on November 9, 2016. 

   ADOA sent Sgt Salazar a letter advising him that his family’s health benefits were terminating on 12/31/2016 and that he and his family were ineligible for any benefits for all of 2017.   According to the letter, the benefits were being terminated because Sgt Salazar had not worked enough hours in 2016 and was deemed ineligible under the Affordable Care Act. 
 
   Sgt Salazar got with his AZCPOA reps and lawyers. We did a little research on the Affordable Care Act and recognized that it did not actually require ADOA to deny him benefits.  We contacted ADOA benefits supervisors and brought this issue and our concerns to their attention. ADOA reviewed Sgt. Salazar’s situation and recognized that his family should not be denied health care because he was on industrial from a work injury! Because AZCPOA raised this issue, ADOA found two other employees who were also wrongly slated to lose health coverage. ADOA recognized the error and issued letters to all three confirming their eliigiblity!

   
AZCPOA continues look out for its members!

AZCPOA