TOSHA: Former Johnson City employee’s Whistleblower Complaint unfounded

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration has determined a former Johnson City Parks and Recreation employee who filed a Whistleblower Complaint against the city does not deserve Whistleblower protection. TOSHA made that determination after several months of investigation.

“We were unable to substantiate the allegation of discrimination,” Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development spokesperson Jeff Hentschel said.

Former Johnson City employee Jason Lloyd filed the complaint earlier this year. Lloyd told us the city fired him in retaliation after he reported safety violations, including some safety concerns our investigation revealed were legitimate.

Lloyd only worked for the city for nine months. As we previously reported, during that time he received two warnings, an extended probationary period and reprimand. Still, he insisted he was not a disgruntled employee, but instead was only concerned about employee and public safety.

The director of the Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department previously told us Lloyd’s firing had nothing to do with retaliation and everything to do with poor job performance and insubordination. Public emails sent after our story aired revealed city management felt the man was disgruntled.

“This all started with a former employee that in my opinion wants to ‘get back’ at the City for his termination,” Johnson City City Manager Pete Peterson said in an email sent out to city commissioners on July 28th, the day after our story aired. “The termination was based solely on unsatisfactory job performance, and insubordination.”

Despite those thoughts, Peterson said the city took the Whistleblower investigation seriously and was glad to hear Lloyd’s claim was unfounded.

“We felt like everything had been done properly and followed as it was originally handled,” Peterson said this week. “As with any organization where you have almost 1,000 employees, you have differing levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with your employees.”

Although the city manager is confident Lloyd’s termination was handled appropriately, we’ve learned our story prompted two city commissioners to raise concerns. In addition, despite saying in an email that we sensationalized the facts in our story, Peterson has admitted the city did make a mistake in regards to one of the safety issues we highlighted; something he told us fell through the cracks.

Tonight at 6 we’ll tell you what the city did after our story aired to address that issue and learn from its mistake.

Copyright WJHL 2015. All rights reserved.

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