– PLACE ON YOUR DEPARTMENTAL LETTERHEAD –
November 3, 2010
Dear Mr. Employee:
Please take notice that it is the decision of this office to dismiss you from your position of Social Worker effective November 3, 2010. The grounds upon which this disciplinary action is being taken are in accordance with Section 4 of Civil Service Commission Rule XIII as follows:
(F): Unacceptable Performance. Unacceptable performance shall mean want of ability suitable to the work, either as regards natural qualities or experience or deficiency of disposition to use one’s ability and experience properly, or failure to continue to perform at an acceptable level.
On October 18, 2010, you received a performance evaluation with a summary rating of “Unsatisfactory”. This performance evaluation documents your failure to perform at an acceptable level and is the latest in a series of performance evaluations documenting your below standard performance. A summary of this documentation is outlined below:
June 2009-April 2010 – Your supervisor, Name, counseled you verbally and in writing about your unacceptable performance. Specific areas of concern were failure to prepare court reports in a timely manner, court reports that were inaccurate and grammatically incorrect, failure to maintain an organized work area, failure to plan and organize your work, failure to observe work hours and discourteous conduct toward clients, coworkers and your supervisor.
April 21, 2010 – Your supervisor issued a memo formally advising you that your performance was unsatisfactory. In this memo, your supervisor stated that, if you were to be evaluated today, the evaluation would have a summary rating of “Unsatisfactory.” Your supervisor stated that you would be afforded 60 days to bring your performance to an acceptable level and would be evaluated at the end of that 60 day period. Your supervisor laid out specific areas in which you needed to improve in order to receive a satisfactory rating, (e.g., timeframes for submission of court reports). In an effort to assist you in improving, your supervisor set regular weekly meetings with you (rather than the biweekly meetings with other staff) and reduced your caseload.
June 30, 2010 – Your performance did not improve to an acceptable level and, on June 30, 2010, you were issued a performance evaluation with a summary rating of “Improvement Needed.” Among the problems cited in this evaluation were court reports not completed in a timely manner; court reports with many grammatical, spelling and factual errors; disorganization of your work area; failure to plan and organize work; failure to observe work hours; and discourtesy, particularly toward your supervisor. As a result of this below standard performance evaluation, you were placed on a 30-day evaluation cycle with specific goals and objectives to accomplish over the next 30 days.
August 7, 2010 – Your supervisor issued an evaluation of your performance covering the period of July 1-August 4, 2010. This evaluation had a summary rating of “Unsatisfactory.” In this evaluation, your supervisor documented your failure to meet the goals and objectives set for you. Specifically, it was documented that you still failed to meet expectations in the areas of preparing timely court reports, preparing accurate and grammatically correct court reports, failure to plan and organize work, failure to observe work hours, and discourtesy toward your supervisor. Your supervisor also cited the fact that your caseload was very low during the rating period as you were carrying fourteen to seventeen cases while the standard is twenty-six cases. Your supervisor also advised you in writing that failure to improve your performance to an acceptable level would result in disciplinary action up to, and including, dismissal from County employment. The evaluation set specific goals and objectives for the next 30-day rating period.
September 12, 2010 – Your supervisor issued another evaluation of your performance covering the period of August 7-September 8, 2010. This evaluation had a summary rating of “Unsatisfactory.” In this evaluation, your supervisor documented your failure to meet the goals and objectives set for you. Specifically, it was documented that you still failed to meet expectations in the areas of preparing timely court reports, preparing accurate and grammatically correct court reports, failure to plan and organize work, failure to observe work hours, and discourtesy toward your supervisor. Your supervisor also cited the fact that your caseload was very low during the rating period as you were carrying sixteen cases while the standard is twenty-six cases. Your supervisor also advised you in writing that failure to improve your performance to an acceptable level would result in disciplinary action up to, and including, dismissal from County employment. The evaluation set specific goals and objectives for the next 30-day rating period.
October 18, 2010 – Your supervisor issued an evaluation of your performance covering the period of September 11-October 13, 2010. This evaluation was marked with a summary rating of “Unsatisfactory.” In this evaluation, your supervisor cited the fact that your caseload was still very low during the rating period as you were carrying sixteen while the standard is twenty-six cases. Your supervisor documented that you had not met performance expectations in the areas of preparing court reports, desk organization, filing in the case records, time management, and submitting forms with all the required information completed. Your supervisor noted that, during this rating period, two complaints were received from the Court Commissioner about you. These complaints were about a detention memo omitting necessary information which was not up to professional standards demonstrated by other social workers, and about your failure to obtain court authorization prior to sending a child on a visit out of county.
The October 18, 2010 performance evaluation was the fourth consecutive below standard evaluation you have received. These evaluations document severe deficiencies in your performance over a 16-month period. In spite of your supervisor’s continuing efforts to work with you, you have failed to perform at a satisfactory level. During the most recent rating period, we received two complaints from the Court Commissioner about you. Your failure to perform at an acceptable level constitutes Unacceptable Performance, in violation of Civil Service Rule XIII 4(F).
On November 1, you and your Union representative met (name) to present an oral reply to the charges against you. You and your representative raised several issues in that reply which I have fully considered. The points you raised and my findings relative to them are outlined below:
You have not been fully trained in your duties.
I found that you have been a Social Worker III for 6 years and received all pertinent training. I further found that your supervisor has spent additional time meeting with you during the past year to discuss cases and provide guidance. I found that you missed many meetings with your supervisor, canceling them at the last moment or leaving the meetings when you were being counseled about errors. It is my finding that many training opportunities have been made available to you and that, as an experienced Social Worker III, additional training should not have been required for the basic errors you made.
Many of your errors were due to following the direction provided by your supervisor. You stated that you wanted to take other steps on cases but your supervisor directed you to take steps that were later counted as errors.
I found no evidence to support this allegation. When I asked you for specifics, you provided one case. I investigated that allegation and found that you sought advice on the case from three different supervisors and two managers and that you provided each of these five individuals with different information relative to the case. Each of them provided sound advice based on the facts you presented. This case was reviewed by an independent manager who concurred that the errors were due to the incomplete information you provided, rather than to the advice you were given.
You said that your supervisor had singled you out and that you could be successful with another supervisor.
In reviewing your personnel file, I found that two other supervisors you had previously worked for also documented performance problems. In both cases, you requested and were granted a transfer to a different supervisor. Based on this history, I must conclude that your performance problems are not due to disparate treatment by your supervisor.
After considering the information you presented, I have concluded that this action is for cause and dismissal is warranted. The extent of your performance problems, the fact that they involve basic skills such as time management and organization of your workload, and the lack of acceptance on your part for responsibility for your performance deficiencies have convinced me that demotion is not an option. I am, therefore, dismissing you from your position effective November 3, 2010.
cc: Department Head
Donna Vaillancourt, Human Resources Director
Nicole McKay, Employee & Labor Relations Manager
Civil Service and Department Personnel Files
Sharon McAleavey, AFSCME Local 829