I saw this in the local newspaper last night (it is weird being at the parent’s house- at home I have no newspaper delivered because broadband lets me get to all the newspapers I want), and it just infuriated me:
Bellaire officials can legally eliminate the position of village street commissioner even though the employee is a U.S. soldier presently serving in the war with Iraq.
Bellaire Village Council is reviewing a plan containing ideas to reduce costs in the village, and one of those ideas is the elimination of the street commissioner’s position. The job is currently held by Vince DiFabrizio, who presently is serving with the 463rd Engineers Detachment 2 in the Persian Gulf.
Bellaire faces a projected general fund deficit of more than $100,000 this year, and this figure could be greater in 2004, Village Clerk Thomas Sable has informed council members. The salary for DiFabrizio, as street commissioner, is paid from street department funds and not from Bellaire’s general fund.
Belmont County Director of Veterans Affairs Cindy Maupin said terminating the position is legal, and DiFabrizio isn’t protected because he holds an appointed position.
“They can’t take away his job, but they can eliminate his appointed position,” she said. “If he were a union member, or if the position were a permanent job, the employer would be required to give him another position when he returns.
“He is not protected from having his position taken away because it is not considered a permanent job. As the mayor changes, the mayor can bring in his own person.”
Maupin, a former mayor’s secretary in Bellaire, is familiar with the employees there.
“I think it’s pretty bad that they’re talking about doing this, and (DiFabrizio) is not here to defend himself,” she added. “They’re doing this while he is gone.
“It’s not very nice, but there’s nothing that can really be done about it. If his were a permanent position, he would stand a chance in requesting another position within the city.”
Staff members in the office of U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, checked into the matter and discovered the same information. While federal law does protect the jobs of those called up for duty, employers may eliminate positions if it is deemed necessary for the “normal course of business.”
Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right.