Thursday, March 15, 2007

Kansas: Johnson County Eight win their grievance hearings against Phill Kline

By Diane Silver

Johnson County review panels have "failed to uphold" District Attorney Phill Kline's decision to fire eight employees within hours of taking office.

That word comes today via the Kansas City Star's Prime Buzz Blog (registration required) and a federal court filing by the lawyer representing the seven attorneys and one staff member Kline fired in January. The filing also notes that the staff members have either found other employment or are not going to seek reinstatement with the DA's office.

What this appears to mean is that the federal court case filed by the fired staff will continue against Kline. If the Johnson County Eight's attorney is successful in his argument, this may also mean that Kline can't argue in federal court that the "dismissals were proper."

So far, I can only find the pdf of the filing on Prime Buzz. Since that blog is off limits to most folks (and very expensive after a 2-week trial period), I'll quote from the filing liberally below.
On March 12, 13 and 14, three-person Review Panels established by Johnson County held separate hearings for each of the eight Plaintiffs. Kline was notified of the hearings, but Kline did not participate in the hearings.

The Review Panels failed to uphold Kline’s decision to fire Plaintiffs, thereby reversing all eight terminations....

The Review Panels’ decisions to not uphold the terminations establishes that, if Kline’s refusal to participate in the hearings had not delayed the hearings, the grievance hearings would have occurred while Plaintiffs were still employed by the County, and the dismissals would have been rescinded before their employment ended. As a result, Plaintiffs would not have suffered the financial losses and damages that occurred when they were unemployed and forced to obtain new employment.

Because Kline failed to appear at the hearings and contest the allegations in Plaintiffs’ Dispute Resolution Forms, Kline is equitably estopped from contesting those allegations in this Court, and is equitably estopped from arguing that the dismissals were proper.

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