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Texas public officials make ‘America’s Worst Bosses’ ranking

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eBossWatch, a career resource that enables people to anonymously rate their bosses and evaluate potential employers, has published its fifth annual list of America’s Worst Bosses and within the 50-member listing, three are from Texas.

Equally disturbing is that well over half of the list comprises “bosses” in government or other taxpayer-funded venues. Out of the three Texas “Worst Bosses,” two fall into this category.

Bill Latham, a store director of Kroger Food Stores in Plano, tops the Texas contingency at #11. eBossWatch provides a news release in association with Latham’s listing that reads in part:

SHERMAN, Texas, Sept. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — A Plano, Texas, man has been awarded more than $450,000 in damages against Kroger Texas L.P. in a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, after a jury found he was harassed by his store manager because of his mental disabilities before ultimately being fired after reporting the harassment. Kroger Texas is a division of Cincinnati-based grocery chain The Kroger Co.KR +0.58% .

Karl Tipple, 25, filed the lawsuit last year after a Kroger store manager harassed him for nearly a year before wrongfully firing him in December 2011. The lawsuit alleged the manager repeatedly referred to Mr. Tipple as a “f—— retarded idiot” who was “too stupid to live.”

In a verdict issued Thursday, Sept. 26 following three days of testimony, jurors in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman found for Mr. Tipple and awarded him more than $450,000 in damages, which included $250,000 in punitive damages. Additionally, Mr. Tipple may be allowed to recover his attorneys’ fees as part of the recovery.

“This case was never about money for Karl,” says Mr. Tipple’s lead counsel, Matthew Scott of the Kendall Law Group in Dallas. “He wants to make sure that no other disabled Kroger employees are forced to endure this type of abuse in the future.”

Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon comes in at #22. A sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the district attorney cost taxpayers more than $468,000. Documents detailing the costs as well as specifics of the claim were released in January 2013 as per a Texas attorney general office order which denied Shannon’s prior effort to withhold information sought by media outlets via an open records request.

Shannon originally argued to the attorney general that the information “clearly is not the public’s concern” despite former Assistant District Attorney Sabrina Sabin receiving $375,000 from Tarrant County in September as per terms of a no-fault settlement agreement.

Sabin filed two complaints against Shannon. The first was filed in March 2012 with Tarrant County then another was filed in May to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In her complaints, Sabin alleged that Shannon sexually harassed her from 2008 until January 2012 making her life “unbearable.”

An additional $43,651 was authorized by Tarrant County commissioners for personnel consultant Whitney Smith’s investigation of Sabin’s complaint while another $49,502 was paid to the Jackson Walker law firm of Dallas for mediation assistance.

Up for re-election in 2014, Shannon instead announced plans for retirement at the end of his term. Shannon worked more than 20 years in the prosecutor’s office. In 2009, he was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to serve out the term of the late District Attorney Tim Curry and later elected to a full four-year term in 2010.

The third Texan making the list at #32 is Jefferson County Precinct 8 Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III.

In Jurors hammer Jefferson County with $400K verdict following discrimination trial, The Southeast Texas Record reports:

For the second time this year, 12 area residents determined a Jefferson County official is guilty of discrimination, this time hammering a $400,000 verdict against the county where they reside.

On March 4, a different jury nailed the county with a million dollar verdict, finding that the county discriminated against former county employee Donna Davis.

Four months later, jury selection began in the case of Ha Penny Nguyen vs. Jefferson County.

Nguyen filed suit against the county and Jefferson County Precinct 8 Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III on June 7, 2006, alleging she was the victim of discrimination and retaliation.

On June 14 jurors determined the defendants violated Nguyen’s constitutional rights and subjected her to adverse employment actions.

According to the charge of the court, jurors awarded Nguyen $150,000 for her mental anguish, $150,000 in lost wages and $100,000 in loss of benefits.

The suit alleges Gillam only trusted African American employees and sought to terminate Nguyen, a Vietnamese woman.

She alleges she was the victim of retaliation for claiming grievances against Gillam and reporting conduct violations against the former JP, Thurman Bartie, and testifying against him.

The suit says Bartie is a political ally of Gillam.

eBossWatch says this of its ranking:

The 2013 America’s Worst Bosses list includes a former mayor, five restaurant managers, eight law enforcement officers and officials, two fire department bosses, and a church bishop.

To date, the 2013 America’s Worst Bosses have cost their employers over $52 million in monetary damages and lawsuit settlement payments. Of this amount, the 33 bad bosses in the public sector have cost their respective taxpayers over $21 million.

California, with eight bosses, is the state with the highest number of bad bosses on this year’s list. New York has five bosses on the 2013 America’s Worst Bosses list, while New Jersey, Texas, and Washington each have three of the nation’s worst bosses.

The managers who made this year’s list of America’s Worst Bosses were named in workplace lawsuits filed by their employees or were accused of workplace harassment and/or sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and/or creating a hostile work environment.

Over the years, government environments seem to have embraced cultures in which misconduct is either accepted or ignored so as to avoid uncomfortable conflict. During this same time, taxpayers have had a naive, too often fawning view of public officials. In some cases, it’s like a club – or even a cult – and many don’t want to be left out.

Note taxpayers nationwide for 2013, per this ranking, have paid more than $21 million – nearly half the total $52 million quoted – in addressing “bad behavior” claims. Over the years, taxpayers funding bad behavior over good public policy has become a recurring theme.

At a point one can only surmise that more taxpayers (and voters) are okay than not with this behavior.

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