Sheriff Gene Mitchell needs to talk to Sheriff Ana Franklin for advice. She has cornered the market on the quit or be fired process. She may have a manual for the procedure.
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2016 12:15 am | Updated: 4:59 am, Thu May 5, 2016.
MOULTON — A former Lawrence County Drug Task Force agent terminated earlier this month by Sheriff Gene Mitchell is claiming the sheriff lacked the authority to terminate him.
Shannon Holland, who worked on the task force nearly six years until he was terminated April 6, made the claim in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Lawrence County Circuit Court.
Although Mitchell serves as chairman of the task force board of directors, each member is supposed to get a vote in employment decisions, which also are to be approved by the County Commission, said Holland’s attorney, Billy Underwood, of Tuscumbia.
“And that didn’t happen,” Underwood said. “They also didn’t get a vote when Shannon appealed the termination.”
Lawrence County Commission Chairman Bobby Burch declined comment, citing the ongoing litigation.
County Attorney Dave Martin said the task force board doesn’t handle employment decisions such as hiring and firing because the agents are paid by the Sheriff’s Office and employed there.
Holland, however, claims he wasn’t employed by the Sheriff’s Office because he turned in a letter of resignation as a deputy when he was hired by the task force in 2010.
District Attorney Errek Jett, writing on behalf of the board in a letter to Holland April 28, said the task force couldn’t afford to pay his salary since his employment had been terminated with the Sheriff’s Office. Jett declined comment Wednesday, citing the ongoing litigation.
Mitchell said he contacted task force supervisor Dennis Sharp to see which position could be cut after the commission earlier this month told department heads to reduce their payroll by 45 percent.
“His supervisor told me cutting Shannon would affect the unit the least,” Mitchell said.
The payroll cuts are intended to help bridge a $1 million general fund budget gap by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.