11/23/2014

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Former City of Lewiston employees speak out

Former City of Lewiston employees speak out
LEWISTON, ID - Deb Klaudt, a former city of Lewiston dispatcher for the police department was recently let go in December. However that's not the only loss she's dealing with.

"I certainly understand that I'm not the first person that's lost somebody, but it's the first time for me," said Klaudt.

Klaudt's husband Dale lost his battle with cancer and died in December. While caring for her husband during his cancer treatments in his final days, Klaudt used up all the leave she was afforded under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and missed months of work. She said she especially felt the pressure building as she was in the midst of her husband's final moments.

"During this time I was receiving letters from my work suggesting termination," said Klaudt. "And this was at a time that I was trying to decide whether or not to take my husband off of life support."

Lewiston City Manager Jim Bennett said FMLA protected her from termination until December. But he said the city knew she wouldn't be ready to go back to work at that time. Bennett said they offered her a deal that if she resigned they would give her a dispatcher position in May. But that wasn't a decision she was ready to make.

"We knew that how could you be ready to come back to work in a state like that," said Bennett. "She was going to need additional time. We thought we had a way to give her that additional time. Three or four more months to work through that situation and then she could come back to the city."

"I can't say that the city violated any laws or anything like that but the position that had, being at the police department, they could've had some understanding and patience and support," said Klaudt.

The situation is emotionally charged on both ends. So much so that a reserve Lewiston police officer, who voiced his opinions about the matter on facebook, was let go. Matt Hosking posted the comment --"The way things have gone with morale I don't even want people to know I actually work there anymore." Which is why Lewiston Police Chief Steve Orr said he dismissed Hoskins.

"It was his expression, verbally and in writing that he was unhappy," said Orr. "So if I have an unhappy volunteer and he doesn't want to be here, why would I have him here?"

Orr said a social media policy restricting employees from posting negative comments about the department was put into place a year ago.

Hosking said he was told that, in six months to a year, he could re-apply for a reserve officer position, an unpaid volunteer position that he'd had for seven years. However Hosking said he has no current plans to work for the city of Lewiston in the future.
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