The State Worker

The State Worker: Investigation says state managers manipulated system, lied, to cover illegal promotion

Jon Ortiz
Jon Ortiz

The State Personnel Board’s more aggressive pursuit of hiring shenanigans and promotion miscues in state government may be bearing fruit: A new report says a state personnel officer manipulated the civil service system to promote an unqualified employee and a manager displayed “blatant dishonesty” to mislead an investigator.

Although Tyra Gilmer and Monica Rea have transferred from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, both still face discipline. They could lose their jobs.

The investigation released this week follows a January lambasting of the department for promoting Angelina Endsley into a job for which she had neither the education nor experience. Endsley applied for the position believing she was qualified, the State Personnel Board decided, but Fair Employment officials knew better. So the board ordered a deeper investigation to find out who did what and when.

It was the first time in memory that a personnel investigation called out a department for acting in bad faith and not merely bad judgment, and a sign that a 2-year-old auditing program is cutting teeth.

Administrative Law Judge Bruce Monfross’ report says that Gilmer, a personnel officer at the civil rights watchdog department, essentially picked who won a prized discrimination-investigator job by using a candidate list that included Endsley but excluded far more qualified applicants.

When questions arose about Endsley’s qualifications, Gilmer went to Rea and the department’s attorney, Tim Muscat, to get their opinion. She should have checked with personnel experts, the report says.

“The fact that Gilmer failed to follow such an easy, logical course of conduct calls into question whether she failed to do so because she did not want the appointment to be voided. ... Gilmer utterly failed in her responsibilities as the Personnel Officer,” Monfross wrote.

Gilmer said in an email that she disagrees with the report’s conclusion and that “I look forward to a full administrative hearing given due process where I can clear my name.”

Monfross’ report says that Rea, the department’s No. 2 administrator, made contradictory statements. In a signed and sworn declaration, for example, she said that she met with other officials to carefully consider Endsley’s qualifications.

That would have made the promotion an honest mistake with a shorter legal time frame to rescind. But in a later interview with Monfross, Rea said the subject didn’t come up. Rea could not be reached for comment.

Fair Employment officials just want to move on.

“The Department acknowledges the decision of the SPB,” said department spokeswoman Fahizah Alim. “Both individuals named have since moved on to other employment within the state.”

What’s next? Gilmer and Rea can challenge the report. If the five-member personnel board is unmoved, it will mete out discipline. Then the fight could go to civil court.

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