After receiving heat about my termination, UAB president Carol Garrison issued a public statement through her public relations director Gary Mans.
The statement raises more questions than it answers. Actually, it doesn't answer any questions, other than perhaps these: (1) Does anyone at UAB have a clue? (Answer: Evidently not); (2) Is anyone at UAB capable of giving an honest answer to a simple question? (Answer: Evidently not)
I figured I might as well be the guy to raise some questions with Dr. Garrison. If you would like to pose the following questions, or some of your own, I'm sure Dr. Garrison and her pal Gary Mans would be delighted to hear from you. You can reach them at:
* Carol Garrison: email@example.com; (205) 934-4636
* Gary Mans: firstname.lastname@example.org; (205) 934-3884
For review purposes, here is the statement regarding my termination from Carol Garrison:
Contrary to Mr. Shuler's statements, his termination had nothing to do with politics or any conspiracy, and the university has not been contacted by any public official or representative of such about this matter. Mr. Shuler was dismissed based solely on his work performance. Because this is a personnel matter, we cannot comment further.
Let's ponder a few questions for Dr. Garrison:
* According to UAB policy, you make the final decision regarding any appeal through the university's Problem Resolution Procedure (PRP). An employee can appeal a decision of the grievance committee to the human resources director (Cheryl Locke). If Locke rules against the employee (as she has indicated she will do in my case, even though the grievance committee recommended that I be reinstated), you are the last line of appeal. Despite your important role in this process, you already have publicly stated that my termination was based solely on work performance and evidently, in your mind, was justified. Why should I expect an objective review from you, given that you already have stated your opinion on the matter?
* You have stated that my termination was based on work performance. But your own employee grievance committee has found that my termination was wrongful and I should be reinstated. How do you square your statement with what my peers at UAB already have found?
* Your own human resources director, Cheryl Locke, has confirmed in writing--as reported on this blog--that the grievance committee found I should be reinstated? Why does your statement differ so radically from that of your HR director?
* You state that my termination was based on work performance. But I sat through the entire grievance hearing and heard the committee repeatedly ask my supervisor (Pam Powell) for documentation to support her claims that my performance was subpar. When asked multiple times if she could present such documentation, Powell answered, "No." How do you square your statement with the total lack of evidence to support a claim that I was fired for poor work performance?
* I filed a grievance against my supervisor, Pam Powell, on April 22. UAB policy is clear: An employee is to use the grievance process without fear of reprisal or penalty. And yet, after filing a grievance, I was fired. And my termination was based on the word of the supervisor against whom I had filed a grievance. As UAB's chief executive, why would you allow the university's policies to be violated in this way?
* Even if the charges against me were true--and the grievance hearing clearly showed they were not--UAB policy states that supervisors are to use a "progressive discipline" process. This means the least severe form of discipline, oral warning, should be applied before more severe forms of discipline (written warning, suspension, probation, termination) come into play. I never received an oral warning about any of the issues upon which my termination was allegedly based. Again, as UAB's chief executive, why would you allow the university's policies to be violated in this way?
* In my case, a 19-year employee was immediately terminated, with no warning. The You & UAB Handbook gives examples of offenses that call for immediate termination. These include offenses such as fighting, stealing, being drunk on the job, being under the influence of illegal drugs on the job, etc. Even if true (and they are not), the allegations against me do not come close to this level of offense. Does the UAB handbook mean anything, or are managers allowed to terminate employees according to whim?
(To be continued)