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Civil service board mulls suit response
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County Civil Service Board discussed its response Thursday to a recent suit filed by 11 terminated sheriff’s deputies.

The former employees filed for a writ of mandamus in Forsyth County Superior Court on April 19, asking a judge to order the civil service board to hear their appeal.

Responses are due next week for those named in the suit, which includes Forsyth County and its personnel services director, Pat Carson, in addition to the civil service board.

Carson denied the employees’ request for an appeal after the 11 supervisory positions were cut in late February as part of an agency restructuring.

In March, the civil service board followed the direction of Carson to deny the hearing, based on a policy in the panel’s handbook that gives the personnel director the ability to determine a proper appeal.

Richard Neville, the board’s hearing officer, said the three-member panel likely was included as a respondent in the suit “out of an abundance of caution.”

Neville said he would draft an answer for the board to review within the next week, and added that a judge could review the matter as early as about 60 days after the responses.

The board agreed it had followed procedure correctly.

“My position is that we can only act once the county authorizes us to act,” Neville said. “We can’t do anything until the county or Ms. Carson forwards us the appeals, and she decided that they weren’t entitled to an appeal and it stopped right there.”

Carson cited civil service policy that “denies the right of appeal when separation is due to a layoff.”

The former deputies and their attorney disagree that the agency’s reorganization was a proper reduction in force, and also alleges procedural violations in cutting the positions.

Sheriff Duane K. Piper, who took office in January, has said the changes will increase efficiency and lower the budget.

The 11 claim their terminations were politically motivated, incorrectly processed and discriminatory based on age.