High court affirms job termination

By BUSTER WOLFE,

The Mississippi Supreme Court said a Forrest County woman working with the Mississippi Military Department who was fired by the Adjutant General cannot appeal the termination to the Mississippi Employee Appeals Board.

Cindy King, who was a 20-year employee of the Mississippi Military Department, was a supervisor in the Environmental Office at Camp Shelby when she was fired on Feb. 11, 2016. King appealed her termination to the Mississippi Employee Appeals Board, but the Department challenged the board’s jurisdiction to hear King’s appeal. The chief hearing officer assigned to King’s appeal agreed with the department and dismissed King’s appeal.

King then appealed for full Board review; after the board affirmed the chief hearing officer’s determination, King appealed to the Forrest County Circuit Court.

Forrest County Circuit Judge Jon Mark Weathers court heard arguments and issued an opinion and judgment affirming the board. Finally, King appealed to the State Supreme Court, which held that, while King may be considered a state service employee as defined by the Legislature, the Adjutant General – by virtue of three statutory provisions – is not subject to review by the board.

In late 2015, Col. Charles Scott was appointed as an investigating officer to determine whether King “utilized information garnered through her position as the Camp Shelby Environmental Officer to front run the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program for personal gain” by buying a specific piece of property near Camp Shelby. King denied the claim against her, but the Adjutant General terminated King’s employment with the department after the investigation.

In its conclusion, the State Supreme Court said, “While the Legislature has not excluded the Department’s employees from being defined as ‘state service,’ we must affirm the board’s decision to dismiss King’s appeal, as the Adjutant General has discretion, given by statute, in the hiring and the termination of the Department’s employees; thus, the board does not have ability to review or adjust his decisions.”

King was ordered to pay all expenses related to the appeal. Affirming the ruling were Presiding Justices Michael K. Randolph and James W. Kitchens and Associate Justices Leslie D. King, James D. Maxwell II, Dawn H. Beam, Robert P. Chamberlin and David M. Ishee.

Chief Justice William L. Waller Jr. did not participate.

 

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