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La Crosse pays $80K to workers placed on leave, including assistant city attorney

By: Associated Press//December 2, 2012//

La Crosse pays $80K to workers placed on leave, including assistant city attorney

By: Associated Press//December 2, 2012//

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Two employees with the city of La Crosse have been paid nearly $80,000 since they were placed on administrative leave six months ago, and the city still hasn’t explained what policies they’re accused of violating.

In addition, the city paid another $25,000 to have a private firm take over one of the employee’s duties, according to a La Crosse Tribune report.

Assistant city attorney Peter Kisken and community development administrator Liana Escott haven’t been to work at City Hall since May 24 while the city continues its investigation, said Wendy Oestreich, the city’s human resources director.

Oestreich said she couldn’t comment further on personnel matters.

Escott said it was frustrating “not to be given a reason as to what they suspect you did wrong.” She said the city gave her no warning before suspending her and that she was never told the basis of any complaint against her. She said she was told she was being investigated for a potential violation of a city policy, but when she asked which policy she was told that wasn’t known yet.

“I’ve never been in a situation like this,” she said.

Kisken’s attorney said Kisken also has been waiting for the city to provide any information about the nature of the allegations against him.

Each worker is still being paid $38.72 an hour for a 37½-hour work week, Oestreich said. She said she couldn’t estimate when the matters might be resolved.

State law places no time limit on how long an employee can be kept on paid administrative leave, according to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. In some cases, workers have been on paid leave for a matter of years.

Escott said she had never been reprimanded at work before.

But Kisken, who has worked for the city since 1992, was reprimanded in 2001 and 2003 by then-city attorney Pat Houlihan for job performance. He was also placed on paid leave for two days in 2002 after a reported confrontation with Houlihan.

Kisken later filed a discrimination claim against the city. In 2006, the city paid him $55,000 and transferred him to a different department to settle the claim.

Information from: La Crosse Tribune,


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