The State Worker

Nepotism at California state agency leads to discipline for public employee

The Department of Industrial Relations has begun dispensing discipline over findings that its former director and her subordinates violated nepotism rules to promote the director’s daughter and a friend, according to a letter the department sent to the State Personnel Board.

In April, the personnel board ordered the department to review an investigation that concluded former director Christine Baker had inappropriately swayed hiring decisions, and to take any appropriate disciplinary action.

Baker has left the department, as has her daughter and some of the other employees involved.

Baker has said she followed procedures and that the nepotism allegations were driven by personal animosity.

Effective July 12, the department voided a promotion of an unnamed employee who the State Personnel Board said had benefited from Baker’s favor with a special hiring arrangement and an inappropriate promotion in 2014, according to the letter.

The personnel board required the department to send the update 60 days after the report was published in April. The department, which enforces California labor laws, had to take action against the unnamed employee by July of this year to meet a five-year statute of limitations, according to the letter.

The department is still investigating the roles of a half-dozen other employees the personnel board determined had helped Baker make the improper hires and promotions, according to the letter. The letter notes a three-year statute of limitations, which has passed, likely would apply in many of their cases.

The department began new four-day training sessions for 380 hiring managers in June, and plans to complete the training by August, according to the letter. The department doesn’t have a director or an HR chief, but once it hires them, they will go through the training, according to the report.

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