MEMPHIS, TN - We now know why it's so hard for Memphis to fire animal shelter employees who mess up. Not only do they have protection because they're government employees, their union contract makes it more difficult to remove them from their jobs.
According to their contract, an employee must be disciplined within 10 days of the administration being notified about the incident. If too much time passes, the employee is free and clear.
Another provision allows for disciplinary action to be removed from the employee's file.
If an employee is disciplined and six months pass without the employee getting in trouble for doing something wrong, the original action is cleared from the file.
“There is no question the bulk of the problems have been with the workers," says Allen Iskiwitz, a former member of the Memphis Animal Shelter Advisory Board, "whether it’s that they need more training or they don’t care. It is hard to say.”
Animal control officer Demetria Hogan was recently charged with two counts of animal cruelty in connection to a dog named Kapone that disappeared while in her care. Hogan is suspended with pay.
After the Shelby County Sheriff's Office raided the shelter in October 2009, two employees charged with animal cruelty in that investigation, remained on the payroll more than nine months before they were finally fired.
Mayor A C Wharton defended the length of time it takes to fire employees.
“We may be slow, but we do it right," he tells abc24.com. "Once you leave, you are gone for good."
abc24.com tried to reach the union representative for the shelter workers, but he was unavailable for comment.