PORTLAND — Two former Oregon Military Department employees who were fired despite positive performance evaluations are fighting their dismissals.
Human resources analyst Paul Geck was fired last year, in part because his job application included a degree he obtained from what has been described as an "unaccredited diploma mill." Also fired was Terry Clinton, who managed building projects for the department. He was let go following complaints about verbal bullying and the appearance of pornography on his computer.
The state's Employment Relations Board, which resolves labor dispute involving public employees, has recommended the firings be upheld, but both workers are appealing, The Oregonian newspaper reported.
Geck, who represented himself before the board, was fired in July, partly because, the board found, his job application included a degree he obtained through the mail from Rochville University, an unaccredited college that sent him a degree and transcript even though he did no coursework.
Though his job record was "exemplary," the board said, "there is no legitimate dispute that Geck presented a bachelor's degree from an unaccredited diploma mill" in applying last year for a job with the Department of Consumer and Business Services. "He knew, or should have known that his representations about the Rochville degree were false and misleading."
Board documents show Geck, who did not respond to a request for comment, argued that he never understood that Rochville was unaccredited and that his intent was not malicious.
Clinton was fired in August 2011 following complaints about his use of inappropriate language and pornography on his office computer. On one occasion, the document says, his verbal bullying caused a vendor to cry.
27-year member of Guard
Board documents state that Clinton managed between 50 and 70 building projects a year with a total value from $3 million to $30 million. He was a 27-year member of the Oregon Guard and held the rank of Command Sergeant Major. He was hired by the Military Department in 2000.
"He should not have been fired," said Kevin Lafky, a Salem lawyer representing Clinton in his effort to be reinstated or to return to state employment.
The board documents said Clinton apologized for his behavior and said the pornographic images he stored on his computer were sent to him through the years by other people. Lafky said other state employees had more pornography on their computers and weren't fired.
The board upheld the Military Department's decision to fire Clinton, noting "while it is true that Clinton received no prior discipline in his 11 years of state service, and was awarded a merit pay increase and commended for his excellent contract management skills, the department expects more than just technical expertise of its managers."
Military Department spokesman Capt. Steve Bomar said the cases are still under legal review: "Ultimately the final results will speak for themselves."