DPW clerk resigns saying it was ‘horrible experience?

The Independence Township Department of Public Works has once again filled the clerk position after recently-hired Denise King offered her resignation.
King said her time at the DPW was not enjoyable.
‘It was a horrible experience,? King said. ‘I have never been treated as badly as I was there. It was totally unprofessional. I still can’t believe the hostile type of treatment I received.?
King has worked for the township in different positions since 1996. She was a clerk for the Parks and Recreation Department when she applied for the similar position with the DPW this year.
‘The Parks and Rec is in the basement of the old township hall. It is cold in the winter and cold in the summer. Dave Belcher has really, really tried to get the system working but it is just old,? King said. ‘The DPW has a lovely, new building. I was just looking for a change in pace. I was really looking forward to it.?
Four individuals applied for the position including two full-time township employees and two part-time employees. On of the applicants was Carol LaRoque, who had worked for the DPW for nine years as the part-time clerk.
After going through the interview process, DPW Director Linda Richardson recommended the Township Board approve the hiring of King at the April 6 meeting and they did in a unanimous vote.
‘LaRoque is a widow who just lost her husband two years ago to cancer and is trying to raise two children on her own. A lot of the DPW employees did not know how we could take this job away from her but we have a union contract,? Richardson said.
Employees with full time status have the right to another full-time job before part-time employees can be considered.
The plan was to let LaRoque go after King was hired and trained.
King showed up at the DPW on April 14 excited about her first day on the job. However according to the Independence Township resident, that is when the nightmare began.
‘I wasn’t in there even an hour and I knew something wasn’t right.? King said.
According to King, she was given the cold shoulder by all the DPW employees who gave her the silent treatment whenever she asked them a question as simple as how to use the phone system.
‘I went to Linda’s office and asked if something had happened or if I had done something I was not aware of,? King said. ‘Linda indicated they had an alliance to Carol and nobody is handling it well. She said we need to give it time. That is how I remember the conversation.?
King spent the rest of her first day filing in a room by herself.
‘I couldn’t wait for 5 p.m. to come,? King said. ‘It was just as bad if not worse on Tuesday. Tuesday was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.?
Richardson said she had King do filing because the computer system was down that week. Richardson confirmed LaRoque refused to train King, but stated nobody else at the DPW was rude to King.
‘Everybody was quiet that first day. There was not much joking but nobody was mean,? Richardson said.
In a letter to the members of the township board, King explained what transpired on that Tuesday:
‘I was met with the same cold treatment that had been exhibited the day before… At one point during the morning I needed to go in the room where Carol was working. I said ‘good morning? and she abruptly told me ‘I was to not talk to her.? At that point I tried to explain that ‘I was sorry, however, I was a full time employee who went through the proper channels to apply for this position that was available.? Again, Carol replied, ‘I told you not to talk to me!? At that point, I went to Linda Richardson’s office and told her that her staff had won and I was leaving.?
King said she received a phone call from Richardson that evening who assured that if King came to work on Wednesday things would change. After giving the situation much thought, King decided to submit her resignation to Richardson.
‘I couldn’t be somewhere where people didn’t want me. I just thought it was not acceptable,? King said.
King finished up her filing on Wednesday because she said she felt the need to finish the job that was given to her.
‘But nothing changed,? King said.
Richardson was surprised when King decided to leave after working Wednesday.
‘Everything seemed fine to me after she worked that Wednesday. When she said she was resigning I told her to give it some more time,? Richardson said. ‘After Tuesday I told Carol we were not going to tolerate that type of behavior and she apologized for it. She really felt bad.?
King called the Equal Employment Opportunity and representatives for the AFSCME Union.
‘I took personal offense when my union president remarked, ‘I needed to get over it.? Perhaps both the union president and vice president felt a conflict of interest as they are employed by the DPW,? King said.
King said she went public to protect others.
‘I don’t want to have someone else go through this. I mean they still need to fill the position,? King said.
The DPW has filled the position with Nicky Shann who was previously a full time van driver for the senior center. Her first day was Monday, April 26.
‘Everything is going fine for the first day. I have a lot of questions and am getting a lot of answers. Everybody has treated me well,? Shann said.
Richardson calls the entire situation unfortunate.
‘I think this has been blown out of proportion,? Richardson said. ‘The DPW employees are only human. She (King) could not have expected them to be laughing and joking with her the first day.?
Independence Township Supervisor Dale Stuart had no comment on the situation.
Township Trustee and candidate for Supervisor Dave Wagner said the problem is communication within the township.
‘There is a lack of communication with the department heads and the supervisor. There is no team atmosphere between the entire group so things like this can happen. We need to have meetings between the supervisor and department heads on a consistent basis,? Wagner said. ‘If these allegations are indeed true then Linda Richardson should be brought in and reprimanded.?