Grievance Victory Exposes Problems in Hiring at Metro Health Department!

Should the Metro Public Health Department hire the most qualified applicants or should they hire whoever gives the best interview—regardless of credentials, experience, or qualifications?

This was only one of the core issues at stake when MPHD decided to hire someone from outside of the Health Department after several qualified internal applicants applied for a job in the STD division.

Charncey Springer, who was headed for unemployment with the demise of the New Life Fatherhood Program, applied for a position that was posted “for MPHD employees only” and was shocked to discover that he and nine other current department employees were passed over in favor of someone from outside of Metro who had little to no experience in this particular job.

Charncey contacted SEIU and filed a grievance. Rather wait until the grievance was resolved, the Health Department hired the outside candidate.

To make matters worse, H.R. did not do a reference check of the new employee until after she was hired and after Charncey’s grievance was filed. The Union’s investigation of the case turned up some shady hiring practices that members of the Board found “concerning,” including the following findings by the Personnel Committee:

  • The hiring practices at MPHD are not transparent.
  • A transparent, objective process for hiring is not currently being utilized.
  • The value of placing current employees facing layoffs in vacancies is not conveyed to hiring supervisors as a value trumping more minor preferences for hiring external candidates.
  • The reference checking process revealed during the hearing of this appeal is concerning. No references provided by the successful applicant were checked prior to hiring. Just as concerning, when, after the grievance at issue was filed, only one reference was obtained.

In the end, the Board of Health ruled that the Department had violated the Civil Service Rules and directed MPHD to appoint Charncey to the position if he still wanted it.

Charncey was represented in his grievance at all stages by SEIU. The union files grievances on behalf of employees when applicable but can only do so for dues-paying members. Congratulations to Charncey on his new position with MPHD! Here’s what Charncey had to say about his experience working with SEIU to address his issue:

“My name is Charncey Springer. I am an employee of the Metro Public Health Department here in Nashville, Tennessee and member of SEIU Local 205. As an affiliate of the local chapter of SEIU, I think it is important to be a part of an organization that always looks out for your best interest as an employee; an organization that goes out of its way to know how your company operates so that you can work in a safe and just environment.

I recently needed the assistance of my local chapter in a situation regarding employee placement. My concerns focused on the health department’s policy behind its hiring practice and what should be done to ensure that the most qualified individual is selected for the position.

Through the cooperation of the health department along with the diligent work and investigation of my SEIU representatives, we were able to discover some errors in the Civil Service guide that were in much need of clarification for the sake of accuracy as well equity toward all employees in a situation such as this. As a result, a grievance was filed and a hearing was conducted by the Board of Health where fact finding took place to ensure that issue was addressed.

In the end, my grievance was up held and the administrative staff of the health department began drawing up provisions to ensure that in the future, the best candidates for employment are selected. I’m almost certain that I would not have been able to do this without the assistance of my local reps Mark Naccarato and SEIU Union attorney Brad Rayson. I encourage anyone who is considering becoming a part of a SEIU to take the plunge and be a part of an organization that will ensure that while working in this great country, you as a worker will receive due process in all matters of employment as well as help protect the integrity of the work place. Thank you.”

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