The Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission (Commission) conducted its monthly meeting on Thursday, April 24th. The Commission had two cases on its docket in which petitions for reconsideration had been filed.
MPC 08-048, Janine Lonewolf v. Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). Ms. Lonewolf filed an appeal alleging that she was being retaliated against by the DRS for having filed an internal agency grievance. The Commission Executive Director dismissed the appeal and Ms. Lonewolf filed a petition for reconsideration.
MPC 08-070, Janine Lonewolf v. Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). Ms. Lonewolf filed an appeal alleging that the grievance decision, regarding a grievance of her classification and promotional opportunities, was incorrect. The Commission Executive Director dismissed the appeal and Ms. Lonewolf filed a petition for reconsideration.
After hearing oral arguments from Daniel J. Gamino, Ms. Lonewolf’s representative, and Richard Overbach, representative for DRS, the Commission adjourned into executive session. Upon returning from executive session, Commissioner Moses made a motion to deny MPC 08-048, which was seconded by Commissioner Fincher. In MPC 08-070, Commissioner Fincher made a motion to deny, which was seconded by Commissioner Moses. Commissioners Jensen, Moses, Fincher, Bartlett and Rackley voted “yes” to deny the appeals. Commissioner Donnie Smitherman voted “no” on both motions, a vote against denying the appeals.
During the public comments section of the agenda, Clyde McLendon, OPEA Employee Relations Coordinator, spoke to the Commissioners about the lack of personal contact the Commission staff has with employees who file appeals. McLendon took the position that the Commission staff has limited, or no, personal contact with employees who file appeals with the Commission. McLendon stated that, in his opinion, employees are more adept at orally communicating how and why they believe their rights may have been violated, as opposed to having to provide that information in writing, or as opposed to having no opportunity at all to provide that information. McLendon added that unless an employee was represented, most employees are completely unaware of the processes utilized by the Commission to investigate and dispose of appeals.
“The Commission is anticipating updating their appeal process to an on-line filing system very shortly. I believe this change will only add to the confusion and frustration employees experience when filing an appeal with the Commission. While an interview with the employee may not be a cure-all, it will go a long way in assuring employees that their appeals are being looked at. This change would also help negate the belief held by many that the Commission is nothing more than a “rubber stamp” for actions taken by state agencies”, McLendon stated.
The next Commission meeting is scheduled for May 22nd, at 10:00 a.m., at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Commission Room, 200 NE 21st Street, Oklahoma City.