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County works to update employee rules

The Board of Supervisors are working to update the county’s personnel rulebook because the last comprehensive update was in 2003.

New federal laws have been passed and cultural norms have changed significantly since 2003, so the rules need to be updated, said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin.

The book currently does not include language addressing no tolerance for a hostile work environment or workplace discrimination, Board attorney Joe Montgomery said, which the Board needs to address. The Board needs to create a policy that addresses discrimination for sexual preference or religion, Montgomery said.

The Board attempted to revise the book in 2015, but those revisions were never put into place, said Montgomery. The county’s sexual harassment policy was the first topic the Board discussed. The policy currently contains outdated language like “unwanted sexual harassment,” which Montgomery said implies that sexual harassment might be wanted. Lamar County’s sexual harassment policy has clearer wording and could be used as a model for the updates, Montgomery said.

The Board also reviewed the county’s grievance policy, which only offers employees one route to a grievance hearing but needs to offer two, Montgomery said.

Currently grievances for wrongful termination are filed to County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin, who oversees a hearing. Lumpkin said that process puts him in a position where he is sometimes asked to conduct a hearing on whether a termination was wrongful, but he cannot legally override termination decisions by publicly elected officials.

In a separate matter, the Board approved signing financing paperwork for the new fire truck for the Southeast Volunteer Fire Department. The truck is being purchased from Deep South Equipment for approximately $288,000 said Emergency Management Director Danny Manley.