Friday, 28 December 2018 17:09

Former Hamlet museum manager disputes dismissal

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Former Hamlet museum manager disputes dismissal Photo courtesy of Harrison Davis

HAMLET — The recently ousted Depot Museum director is speaking out about her termination.

Stephanie Thornsbury, who held the position of museum manager and downtown coordinator from June 2016 until Dec. 20, released a statement to the Richmond Observer late Friday afternoon, a day following the posting of the position.


In the statement, Thornsbury takes issue with the releasing of the termination letter by City Manager Jonathan Blanton and says proper disciplinary protocol wasn’t followed prior to her termination.

Her full statement, with minor style edits, is as follows:

“I find it disappointing that City Manager Jonathan Blanton chose to broadcast the details he chose in my termination publicly. Because of this decision and the risk to my reputation I feel it necessary to make a statement regarding the matter.

While I am not at liberty to go into detail regarding this matter at this time, I will say that I have tangible proof to refute each and every statement that was made in the termination paper and previous article. 

I also believe it is important to note that the City of Hamlet’s termination protocol for this was also not followed according to the personnel policy. In Article 8 Section 1 E of the personnel policy it states that a dismissal is ‘preceded by an automatic three-day suspension without pay pending completion of an investigation. If the investigation provides sufficient cause, after a hearing of the employee by the city manager, the employee may be dismissed and discharged.’

This did not take place on Dec. 20, 2018. At that time, I was given a glowing evaluation regarding my job performance stating that my events and activities were all a ‘great success.’ Directly after the review of the evaluation, I was abruptly asked to resign, when I refused, I was then handed termination papers.

It should also be noted that at no time was any write-up or disciplinary action taken nor discussed.

This situation has been so shocking it doesn’t even feel real at the present time.”

 

On Thursday, Blanton released a copy of the disciplinary form as well as an accompanying letter detailing the reasons for Thornsbury’s termination.

According to North Carolina’s public records law, G.S. 160A-168, the following information is available regarding government employees:

  • Name.
  • Age.
  • Date of original employment or appointment to the service.
  • The terms of any contract by which the employee is employed whether written or oral, past and current, to the extent that the city has the written contract or a record of the oral contract in its possession. 
  • Current position.
  • Title. 
  • Current salary. 
  • Date and amount of each increase or decrease in salary with that municipality.
  • Date and type of each promotion, demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or other change in position classification with that municipality. 
  • Date and general description of the reasons for each promotion with that municipality. 
  • Date and type of each dismissal, suspension, or demotion for disciplinary reasons taken by the municipality. If the disciplinary action was a dismissal, a copy of the written notice of the final decision of the municipality setting forth the specific acts or omissions that are the basis of the dismissal. 
  • The office to which the employee is currently assigned.

 

In the termination letter, Blanton said he had told Thornsbury during her 2017 performance review to “eliminate the presence of family members” at the museum complex during business hours “in the interest of professionalism.”

According to Blanton, Thornsbury’s mother was not only at the Visitor’s Center but was answering the telephone and running the museum on Dec. 6, the day of the Hamlet Christmas Parade.

"Continuing to regularly have your mother at the Museum Complex after specifically being instructed by me not have her is not acceptable behavior and is construed as failure in performance of duties and insubordination," he said, citing the city's personnel policy.

He also said she failed to attend important meetings in her role as downtown coordinator, and cited issues with her time card and promptly turning in invoices.

Thornsbury’s statement was received after 5 p.m. Friday, so the Richmond Observer was unable to obtain a copy of the city’s personnel policy.

However, North Carolina is an at-will employment state and individuals, including government employees, can be fired at any time, for any lawful reason.

As the city searches for a new manager, Blanton said the museum will be open by appointment.

 

Last modified on Friday, 28 December 2018 18:43