Security problem persists
Saint Mary's Editor
Saint Mary's suspension of security officer Belinda Rathert on Nov. 7 remains unresolved, Rather said.
The officer is on an unpaid suspension from the College pending the provision of information to be given to Human Resources Director Debra Kelly.
"As far as I know, at this point I am on unpaid suspension but I expect the College to terminate me," Rathert said.
Rathert claims that Kelly suspended her because Rathert's college transcripts were missing from her personnel file and until there was verification of Rathert's degree from Indiana University Southeast, Rathert claims the College told her she would be suspended from her duties.
According to the disciplinary procedures in the College's employee handbook "predetermined standards of performance and conduct are established in all departments of the College" and "when an employee does not observe these standards, either through lack of knowledge or with intent, the supervisor will react to these situations by using a system of progressive discipline."
The handbook also further states that "the normal steps in this disciplinary system are: oral warning, written reprimand, disciplinary layoff and termination."
In Rathert's case, the College is investigating whether or not Rathert misrepresented herself to the College, which is subject to immediate dismissal, as it would be considered fraud in securing employment.
"It was unfortunate that this had to occur. It could have been handled in a more professional manner. It could have been as simple as a request for college transcripts but that is not how Debbie Kelly handled the situation," Rathert wrote in a statement.
Following Rathert's suspension, the security officer was also banned from campus. The security officer received a letter on Nov.12 from Kelly confirming the College's "suspension and notice of absolute prohibition from campus."
"The decisions that [interim security director] Rosemarie Harris, human resources and administrators make are to benefit the students. They would not make a decision that would negatively impact students," College spokeswoman Melanie Engler said. "They keep the campus' best interest in mind."
Rathert was originally given until Nov. 13 to provide the College with the missing information, but was granted an extension by Kelly. According to Rathert, she sought an extension so she could seek legal counsel and hired Shawn Freidman of the Freidman and Associates law firm based in LaPorte, Ind.
Rathert claims Freidman contacted College Counsel Kathy Brickley on Nov. 18, to turn over Rathert's transcripts.
But Engler said Rathert's transcript has still to be turned over to the human resources department.
"[Freidman] told them we have a degree but they told him they don't want me back. They told him they would negotiate a severance package but [accepting] a severance package keeps you from suing," Rathert said.
Rathert has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and plans to file a lawsuit against the College based on claims that sexual harassment and discrimination, unequal wages and a hostile work environment exist at the College.
Kelly refused to comment on the situation.
All News Stories for Friday, November 22, 2002