We've already established that several folks on the upper tier of the UAB food chain have made false statements about my termination at the university.
We also have hinted that the university has been, and probably still is, awash in research fraud, which federal law-enforcement types in Birmingham have essentially helped cover up. Much more is coming on that topic in the days ahead.
Now we learn that UAB has resorted to what amounts to thievery regarding my termination.
Lying, cheating, and stealing are three of the biggies on any cavalcade of wrongdoing. Looks like the folks on the Southside are going for quite a trifecta.
How did thievery enter into the equation? When I was placed on administrative leave on May 7, UAB human-resources types decided it was imperative that I be treated like a criminal. They would not allow me to return to my desk to gather my personal belongings. An HR rep went to my desk to retrieve my backpack, newspaper etc., and a few days later I picked up three boxes of my stuff and took them home. When I went through the boxes, I quickly saw that a number of my personal items were not there.
I immediately notified UAB that some of my stuff was missing and asked for it to be returned. I also noted that since UAB's own employee grievance committee had found I had been wrongfully terminated, I should be allowed to return to my desk and retrieve personal items myself.
The university took roughly three months stalling, I mean searching, for these items. And it never has responded to my request to get my own things.
Finally last week, Employee Relations rep Bobby Barnes informed me that UAB would send me several items in a package. But some of my personal items, Barnes said, could not be located.
Guess what those items were? I had a folder in my desk at work titled "Lawsuit," which included copies of some papers, plus three audiotapes, connected to the lawsuit in Shelby County, Alabama, that I've been fighting for roughly eight years now. This, of course, is the lawsuit that caused me to start Legal Schnauzer in the first place.
I have multiple copies of these papers and audiotapes, stored in other locations, but I figured it would be wise to have one in my desk at work. (After all, in Alabama, you never know when some right winger is going to try to burn down your house.)
The missing items just happen to be those three audiotapes. Hmmm. Wonder who was interested in those, and who currently has them in their possession?
Thinking about this reminded me of a curious moment in my grievance hearing, the one that ended with the employee committee finding that I had been wrongfully terminated and should be reinstated.
Pam Powell, my former supervisor, said at one point that after I had been placed on administrative leave or terminated, someone ("we," she called them) had found personal legal documents I had stored on my work computer. Powell didn't say who "we" was, but her statement raises several issues:
* The documents Powell referred to were stored in a personal folder on my desktop, a folder our departmental IT guy, Dan Willson, had set up for me and my coworkers. I had never asked for it, but Dan said it was there for my personal use. Mostly, I used it to store items that didn't fit on our server. Our server contains folders by various projects, and when I discovered something that was worth keeping but didn't fit a specific project, I would store it on my desktop. If a coworker sent me a joke or funny/interesting story, I would store it on my desktop personal folder. And I kept copies of some legal documents there. I was not violating any UAB policy; our own IT guy had set this up, without me asking for it, for my personal use. Here's one of many ironies in this whole situation: On one hand, UAB now claims it has strict policies about use of university equipment for personal reasons. On the other hand, UAB encourages the use of university equipment for personal reasons. We all had folders on our desktop for our personal use. People have tons of personal music and photos stored on UAB computers. Can we say "mixed messages?"
* The issue of items stored on my desktop was never mentioned in any of the "reasons" UAB cited for my termination. I wasn't violating UAB policy, and UAB had never claimed that I was. But Powell made this off-handed comment about a search of my desktop in the grievance hearing. Wonder why that was?
* Based on its own statements, UAB had no reason to go through my desktop in an investigative sort of way. The university had alleged that I was using the Web to "research" my blog, even though keeping up with Alabama news is part of my job description and UAB's own investigation showed that I had never written anything for my blog on university time or equipment. The issue of storing stuff on my desktop was not an issue in my termination. But Powell's comment indicates someone ("we," in her words) went through my computer with the proverbial fine-toothed comb. (By the way, I wasn't trying to hide these legal documents. I had been told this desktop folder was for my personal use, and these were copies that I had for safekeeping, so I had nothing to hide. But in what you might call a "hierarchy" of folders, they were three or four levels down in this personal folder. If anybody had asked to see them, I could have shown them in a matter of seconds. But without my guidance, somebody would have had to do some pretty serious searching to find them.)
So we've learned two things:
1. UAB "lost" audiotapes that were stored in a hard-copy folder related to legal matters;
2. "We" went to quite a bit of trouble to scour my desktop, even though anything on my desktop was not an issue in my termination.
What does this tell us?
It tells me that someone was awfully interested in anything law-related on my computer or in my desk. And given that neither of these items above were connected to issues raised in my termination, it tells me that "we" included someone from outside of UAB.
Did "we," perhaps someone from federal law enforcement, want me fired so they could go in and grab my hard drive and see if I had stored something "important" there. (If that was their hope, I can tell you they were disappointed. I have some incriminating information against a certain federal law enforcement official, but it wasn't on my work computer. Sorry, Alice.)
The bottom line? All of this tells me that UAB did not act alone in cheating me out of my job.