Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How Will UAB President Respond to a Few Pointed Questions?

We noted in a recent post that Carol Garrison, president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), has upheld my firing after 19 years of service.

That is quite remarkable, of course, considering that Garrison's own employee-grievance committee found that my termination was wrongful.

Garrison sent me a "snail mail" letter, informing me that my appeal had been denied. When I read it, I thought, "Good grief, this woman has a Ph.D., and she writes this letter that is illogical, goofy, and downright embarrassing."

Of course, people tend to write that way when they are trying to explain the unexplainable. Anyway, I felt compelled to respond with a few obvious questions.

Here is my reply to the UAB president:

Dr. Garrison:
I am in receipt of your letter dated August 19, 2008, in which you inform me that you are upholding my termination. I would like to ask several questions:

* You state that you have reviewed the recommendations of the Problem Resolution Committee. I request that I be allowed to see the committee's recommendations. I find it curious that you and Cheryl Locke evidently have seen the report, but I have not--even though I am the one who filed the grievance.

* You state that you reviewed the facts upon which my complaint was based. I assume that means you reviewed the audiotapes of the grievance hearing, the one where my supervisor, Pam Powell, repeatedly answered "no" when asked if she could provide documentation to support my termination. I request that I be allowed to review these tapes. I was present for the entire hearing, and I know that no evidence was presented to support any discipline against me, much less termination. But since you and Ms. Locke evidently have had access to the tapes, it seems only fair that I be allowed to review them also.

* Were you aware, in your review, that I had filed a grievance against my supervisor roughly two weeks before I was placed on administrative leave and less than a month before I was fired? Are you aware that UAB policy clearly states that an employee is to use the grievance process without fear of penalty or reprisal? I filed a grievance and almost immediately faced rather serious reprisal--I was fired. And even your own grievance committee found that I should not have been fired. Do you or anyone else at UAB pay the slightest bit of attention to the policy that is outlined in the You & UAB Handbook? If so, how do you justify this statement in your letter: "I believe the decision to terminate your employment was correct?"

In the end, are UAB employees governed by what you and Ms. Locke "believe" or by what is outlined in the official university handbook?

One final thing: Several weeks ago, in response to citizens who had e-mailed you about my termination, you said that I was fired based "solely on work performance." You made this statement even though your own grievance committee had ruled that I shouldn't have been fired at all. Given this public statement you made some time ago, why should I (or anyone else) believe that you approached your decision in my case with any objectivity?

I look forward to your reply.

Thank you,

Roger Shuler

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