Proposed settlement could bring back fired Dover employees
DOVER (WJER) (February 8, 2022) – The city’s law director has apparently reached a settlement with three fired city employees that could get them their jobs back.
City Council members plan to meet Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. to approve the settlement.
There are still many details to sort out and questions to answer, and Law Director Doug O’Meara was not available Monday.
One of the biggest questions is: what is Mayor Richard Homrighausen going to do? He fired those three employees in December and hasn’t budged while O’Meara and Council members harshly criticized him and asked for an explanation.
Monday, Homrighausen said he’s not going to elaborate on why he fired Service Director Dave Douglas, Safety and Human Resources Director Gerry Mroczkowski and Executive Assistant Eva Newsome.
“They are my appointments and they’re at-will employees,” he said.
Council President Shane Gunnoe, Council members and O’Meara claim Homrighausen fired the three employees as retaliation for their cooperation in investigations of his administration. Gunnoe says they’re protected by whistleblower laws.
“There’s whistleblower statute for a reason,” he said. “When you add up county commissioners and other elected officials and city and county and state employees, there are a lot of at-will employees in the state. My thought is the whistleblower statute exists for a reason.”
Gunnoe says O’Meara has been working with the employees’ attorneys.
“As far as legal issues go, this has been a relatively fast-moving topic,” Gunnoe said. “I think there’s a general agreement between where Council and the law director stand and where the employees stand, which obviously helps the process along. Although there are still a lot of moving parts to it.”
He deferred questions about the settlement to O’Meara.
“The settlement was the result of discussions between him and the attorneys retained for the three representatives,” Gunnoe said. “What he can share with you, what he will share with you – those would be questions I’m going to defer to him.”
Council members discussed the settlement in a closed-door session and didn’t invite the mayor. Homrighausen left before Gunnoe announced the settlement.
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