The appeal of a former Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputy who contends he was fired for not supporting the incumbent won’t be heard outside of the courts.
In a decision announced Thursday, the Forsyth County Civil Service Board opted not to hold a hearing for Rodney Pirkle.
Pirkle has contended he was dismissed July 11 for his support of sheriff’s candidate Duane Piper, who ultimately won the Republican primary runoff election against three-term incumbent Ted Paxton.
Despite more than four prior years with the agency as a deputy, Pirkle was on standard first-year employee probation because he had left for a year before being rehired on Aug. 9, 2011.
He had resigned to spend a year in Afghanistan working as a bomb dog handler and trainer.
Pirkle had asked the board to review his appeal even though he was not covered by civil service as a first-year probationary employee, citing a carved out exception.
According to county policy, “A probationary employee may be subject to personnel action and/or disciplined up to and including termination for any non-discriminatory reason, without the requirement that the county demonstrate just cause for the personnel action.”
As the basis for its decision, the three-member panel cited a recommendation from the county’s personnel director.
In an Aug. 30 letter, director Pat Carson wrote that the board did not have jurisdiction to hear the case because Pirkle was a probationary employee not covered by civil service protection, said board attorney Dana Miles.
“The second thing being that he alleges as a probationary employee, he was discriminated against based on improper political motivation,” Miles said. “He has a remedy under Georgia law and that would be outside the jurisdiction of this particular board.”
Miles said the board could accept that recommendation to deny the request and possibly be directed later by a court to hold a hearing.
The other option, he said, would be to hold the hearing, which would likely lead Forsyth to bring to court the civil service board’s decision to go against the recommendation.
Member Avery Howell suggested adhering to Carson’s opinion.
“It seems like it’s out of our hands right now,” Howell said.
Pirkle, who attended the board’s meeting Thursday, did not have any comment on the decision, but said he plans to pursue the matter in court.