The Appanoose County Board of Supervisors terminated an employee who handled information technology, zoning and geographical information after a human resources investigation.
Jason Murphy, who began working for Appanoose County on Nov. 19, 2018, was terminated effective immediately after supervisors were concerned over his productivity and other complaints that were substantiated following an internal investigation.
Paul Gruefe, the county’s HR representative, presented his findings from an HR investigation and told the board Monday he found that complaints related to unprofessional behavior and inappropriate use of sick time by Murphy were substantiated.
The termination followed an employee review hearing. Iowa’s open meetings law allows for such hearing to be conducted privately if the employee requests a closed session. Murphy opted for the hearing to be completed in an open session.
Supervisor chairman Mark Waits made the motion to terminate, which was seconded after a brief pause by Neal Smith. The three supervisors voted unanimously to terminate Murphy’s employment. He will be paid through the end of the day Monday, but was relieved of his duties shortly after Monday’s meeting after returning county-owned devices and providing passwords and other information to the county.
An estimated 15 computers in Appanoose County’s computer system still need to be replaced by mid-January, due to Microsoft’s decision to end support for its Windows 7 operating system. When a software company ends support for a certain operating system, it no longer publishes updates for it which poses a potential security risk.
Waits said with the deadline nearing, he was doubtful Murphy would be able to complete the installation prior to the deadline. Computers began being purchased in May and several machines have been on site for months. Murphy stated there were some technical issues related to software that caused some delay, but he believed those had been addressed and the remaining computer installations would be completed by the deadline. He also said there were some “personal issues,” and holidays, that kept him from work recently.
When asked by Waits, Murphy said that no computers had been installed in the past two weeks and in the past month only two machines had been installed.
To complete the work, GMD Solutions was hired for “computer services” at the close of Monday’s meeting.
There was also a backlog of — by Murphy’s estimation — 45 parcel split requests that needed to be processed dating back as far as May. Murphy stated he didn’t realize the splits not getting done had an immediate impact on other departments as he thought they didn’t need to be completed until the end of the year.
Additionally, there was an allegation that Murphy drew sick time from the county but was working on a second job. Gruefe said he had two credible sources, but that Murphy has declined to address the allegation.
Other unprofessional behavior, according to Gruefe, included allegations that Murphy had hugged other employees and would ask some employees if they were a “hugger.” Additionally, complaints against Murphy included that he interrupted a county official who was working with a customer to show them something from his personal cellphone and that he once interrupted the county attorney during a court proceeding about a “mundane IT issue.”
Given that Murphy had received verbal warnings in the past, before casting her vote to terminate Murphy, Demry said she felt despite Murphy’s intelligence there was no other choice given the complaints and past warnings.