On August 13, Eliska Lynch and husband Bill lost their Denham Springs home to devastating floods that cause billions of dollars in damages in Southeast Louisiana.
On August 31, she was notified—by mail—that she had lost her job as a bookkeeper for the Parochial Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). http://www.persla.org/
PERS is a public defined benefit pension plan which provides retirement benefits pursuant to Act 205 of 1952.
The system provides for two separate retirement plans—one designed for employers not participating in Social Security and one for those who remained in Social Security, according to the RERS Web page. http://www.persla.org/history.htm
The system provides benefits to all Louisiana parishes except Orleans, East Baton Rouge and Lafourche. Additionally, agencies who are wholly or partially funded with parish funds may participate in PERS.
Apparently, according to the two-page notifying her of her termination, Lynch did not perform sufficiently at her new position of bookkeeper, a position into which she had been moved when the former bookkeeper retired.
According to Lynch, however, she was fired because she wanted to return to her former position of benefits analyst but that job had been filled by Cari Hill, the daughter of PERS Assistant Director Becky Fontenot.
Lynch said when she complained of nepotism, she subsequently received the letter from PERS Administrative Director Dainna Tully informing her of her termination.
In her letter—and in an interview with LouisianaVoice, Tully indicated that Lynch had voluntarily accepted the bookkeeping position. In her letter to Lynch—provided to LouisianaVoice by Lynch—Tully said Sullivan trained Lynch for three weeks before conducting her first interview for a benefits analyst to fill Lynch’s former position. In all, she said, Sullivan worked six weeks with her. She also said the PERS audit team worked with Lynch for three days in an unsuccessful effort to provide “additional training tutelage” for her new position.
Lynch, however, said she never encountered any criticism of her job performance until she broached the nepotism issue of Hill’s being supervised by her mother, which Lynch says constitutes nepotism. http://employeeissues.com/nepotism.htm
Not so, said Tully. “She (Hill) answers directly to me. All employees answer to me.”
That may well be. Many agency heads are micro-managers. That, theoretically, at least would make all employees equal in the agency head’s eyes. But in the words of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, some are more equal than others.
And in most agency organizational charts, Hill would certainly be under the direct supervision of Fontenot, her mother, a clear violation of Louisiana’s ethics laws governing nepotism.
- 1119. Nepotism
- No member of the immediate family of an agency head shall be employed in his agency.
B.(1) No member of the immediate family of a member of a governing authority or the chief executive of a governmental entity shall be employed by the governmental entity.
Who may be held liable for a violation of §1119?:
In addition to the agency head and the agency head’s immediate family member(s) hired in violation of §1119, the following persons may also be held liable for a willful violation of the nepotism restrictions:
Member of the governing authority (Hill);
Public employee having the authority to hire and fire the employee (Tully);
Immediate supervisor of the employee (Fontenot).
After leave time was applied, Tully said in her letter, Lynch’s official date of termination was Sept. 14—one month and a day after floodwater swept through her home and reducing her household belongings and two vehicles to a mound of worthless debris at the edge of the street.