John Welch continued his fight to regain his former job last week.
Welch was transferred in October from his post as branch supervisor of the Euchee Creek Library to a job as reference librarian at the Evans library.
In a grievance hearing Tuesday before the Columbia County Civil Service Commission, Welch protested the transfer and what he believes was unfair treatment by his supervisors.
Welch told the seven-member board that he believes he was "improperly removed" from Euchee Creek Library and that county officials "smeared" his reputation.
Specifically, Welch referred to a meeting county commission Chairman Ron Cross had at the Grovetown library in September. At that meeting, Cross told library patrons that Welch had been sleeping during work hours.
That statement, Welch said, made him look like a "slacker."
In his defense, Welch said he slept in the library break room during his lunch hour, which he said wasn't prohibited by county policies. Also, he said, he discontinued the practice when asked to do so by Columbia County Library Manager Mary-Lin Maner.
However, Welch noted during the meeting that he continued to let other employees sleep during work hours because he thought the criticism only applied to him.
Sleeping was just one issue officials had with Welch's management, Maner told the commission.
Maner noted that Welch resisted change and continually shirked requests to add new programs at the library for adults and teens.
"He would tell me why he didn't want to do it, and that would be the end of it," Maner said.
Despite the conflicts between Welch and Maner, officials said that was not why he was transferred.
During a reorganization of library staff, commissioners decided to create a branch manager position at Euchee Creek library. Such a position would require a master of library science degree, which Welch doesn't have.
Since the library didn't need both a branch manager and a branch supervisor, a title that doesn't require the advanced degree, Welch was transferred.
In his testimony to the Civil Service Commission, county Deputy Administrator Scott Johnson said the transfer was not a punitive action because Welch kept the same salary.
Welch, however, said he felt he was being punished. He said that none of Maner's directives ever were presented to him in writing and that he never was given a written reprimand for his performance during his 16 years as a branch supervisor.
He asked the commission to return him to his former post while allowing him to pursue a master's degree. He also asked for a public apology from officials for their treatment of him in recent months.
County Human Resources Manager Marcia Lowry said the commission had three days to deliberate Welch's case. Once finished, they would announce their decision first to the plaintiffs and defendants before making it public. She said it likely will be Monday before the commission announces a decision.
If unhappy with the verdict, Lowry said, either party in the case has 10 days to appeal the decision to the board of commissioners.
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