The University of Connecticut paid one dozen employees large settlements - many over $100,000 - to get them to resign and keep quiet about their time in state government, according to state auditors. Other agencies participated in the practice, too, although less frequently. The Auditors of Public Accounts faulted the practice because the agreements lacked oversight from the governor or attorney general as required by law and keeps potential whistleblowers from speaking out.
Union Defends CT Employee Fired for Smoking Marijuana on the Job
Gregory Linhoff was arrested for smoking marijuana in his state vehicle while working at the UConn Health Center as a “skilled maintainer.” However, the Connecticut State Employee’s Union Independent is fighting his dismissal and has taken the issue all the way to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Linhoff was arrested in 2012 when he was found by a police officer smoking marijuana while sitting in his state issued vehicle. He turned over his pipe and an ounce of marijuana. According to the arbitrator’s report, Linhoff told the officer he was “Just f**king off” and “Smoking a little weed.” Linhoff received $90,807 in salary and fringe benefits in 2012.
The union disputed the state’s ability to fire Linhoff and won an award through arbitration that allowed Linhoff to remain on the job following a suspension. In appealing the arbitrator’s award, lawyers for the state argued that Linhoff’s position involved operating heavy machinery and that there is an explicit prohibition of illegal drug use during work hours.
According to the state of Connecticut’s appeal, “This award sends a message to state employees and taxpayers that prohibited drug use on the job will be tolerated. In light of our strong public policies against illegal drug use, possession and impaired driving, the public should expect and demand that State employees refrain from criminal conduct while on duty, and from conduct that jeopardizes the safety of others.” A Connecticut Superior Court sided with the state and upheld the dismissal of Linhoff.
However, the union has now appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court. CSEUI is arguing that Linhoff was using marijuana due to depression and anxiety and that his drug use is not sufficient grounds for firing. The union feels that the arbitration ruling should be upheld.
Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed a new way to fund Connecticut teacher pensions Friday with towns and cities contributing one third of the costs or roughly $407 million. "At a time when state government is making difficult cuts to services, we can no longer afford to exclude how we pay for teacher pensions from the conversations,” Malloy said in a statement.