100 State Circle
Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1925
Dear Governor Hogan,
I am writing this letter to you to bring awareness on the most absurd and deceitful treatment I've received regarding the separation of my Maryland State position on June 13, 2013 from two State of Maryland Agencies, Eastern Correctional Institution and The MD State Retirement And Pension System. It appears that I have written you a story. Well, its more of a nightmare that I have endured going on for 4 years with no positive remedy for me in sight. This nightmare has stripped me of my almost 12 year career that I took pride in with the Division of Corrections and has kept my early disability retirement benefits from being granted to me so I no longer have any medical benefits. I emailed all Maryland Delegates and Senators making them aware of the treatment I have received but it appears this is acceptable as I have gotten little response and no help from them. So now I am writing you and anyone else that will listen as you will see who I have CC on this letter. The positive changes you have made for the state demonstrates you are a fair and reasonable man and I want to thank you for that. I'm hoping after you read my letter you will be able to grant me either my career back or my early retirement benefits.
I was a proud State of Maryland Employee for almost twelve years at ECI. One year as a Correctional Officer and eleven years as a Correctional Case Management Specialist II (CCMS II). I was injured on the job on June 12, 2012 while filing paperwork in inmates basefiles when a filing cabinet fell against me and the third drawer struck me with such force that it injured my beck and back. Case managers in the office had been expressing concerns about the filing cabinets in the Case Management office because they were very old and worn out and a lot of times the drawers would fall off the tracks and you would have to struggle to open them and close them at times. One particular CCMSII Bill Caton had repeatedly voiced his concerns over them during our Case Management department meetings which would be notated in our department meeting minutes. He said we either needed new filing cabinets or the existing ones needed to be restored or someone is going to get injured. Our concerns were ignored and then I got injured from one of them. I was out of work for almost one year receiving treatment and physical therapy from my orthopedist and pain manager Doctors. I was cleared to return back to my position by my treating orthopedist on June 4, 2013. My treating orthopedist and pain management Doctors both placed permanent work restrictions on me to work a sedentary position only based on the results of a functional capacity evaluation that my orthopedist had me take- see attachment A & B. I reported back to work, was on ECI's payroll, but could only work limited light duty and I could not have any inmate contact during that time from June 4, 2013 through June 11, 2013. On June 11, 2013, I was informed by Eastern Correctional Institution's Personnel department that they would not accommodate my permanent work restrictions for a sedentary position on a permanent basis which resulted in ECI separating me from my position on June 13, 2013-see C.
I applied for ordinary and accidental disability retirement benefits on April 18, 2013 which I wouldn't have continued to pursue if ECI had let me continue to work my position when returning to work in June. I did that because its a known fact that ECI does not accommodate any permanent medical restrictions because Correctional employees must be medically cleared for full duty to work inside the prison and around inmates. I've seen ECI separate many employees for medical restrictions such as mine during the years I was there. Therefore, I began the process of applying for disability retirement benefits early. When ECI would not allow me to work there anymore, I sent MSRPS a copy of my separation letter so it would further support my pursuit for early disability retirement benefits. On October 29, 2013, MSRPS denied me for both ordinary and accidental disability retirement benefits because the medical board felt I could still continue to perform my normal job duties - see D.
I wrote MSRPS a letter for reconsideration informing them again that I was separated from my job due to permanent medical work restrictions for a sedentary position only that ECI would not accommodate and I could no longer perform my normal job duties if ECI would not allow me to report to work there. I also retained legal representation from attorney Robert Silberman for my appeal. On July 15, 2014, I was denied for a second time for both ordinary and accidental disability retirement benefits by the MSRPS.
After my second denial, I met with Mr. Silberman to prepare for my administrative hearing. He informed me, the reason why I was denied again at the reconsideration level was because MSRPS wrote to ECI for more information on my job duties. ECI Personnel Associate Paula Brittingham issued a memo on April 4, 2014 informing MSRPS that 95% of my job duties were sedentary. The same permanent work restriction that I had been cleared to work that ECI said they would not accommodate-see E. She also falsely states my job duties do not require me to act as a Correctional Officer in time of emergency. My former position is included in the list of mandated classifications that has daily contact with inmates - see F. I can be asked to perform security, custody, and control functions within the Correctional setting and was required to complete mandatory Correctional training certified by the MD Correctional Training Commission so I could do so - see G showing the mandatory training requirements of a Correctional Officer and Classification Counselor also known as a CCMS. Therefore, I could be asked to perform Correctional Officer duties in an emergency and myself and other CMSIIs have done so in the past which you will see that I testified that I did later in this letter. I have also seen CCMS help out many times before in the housing units with cell searches during mass shakedowns. Those kinds of duties falls under "performs all other related duties as assigned" which is stated in the job specs for a CCMS II - see H. Finally, Ms. Brittingham makes a statement that they were advised on the QT that I was currently working in another sedentary position. At the time of her memo I was not employed. Her statement alludes as if I wouldn't work my sedentary job at ECI but was working a different sedentary job with a different employer when in fact I had no choice in the matter the reason why I was no longer working at ECI.
At the advice of my lawyer, I met with ECI's Personnel Director Christi Seman to see why they would not accommodate my medical restrictions for a sedentary position but afterwards issued the memo to MSRPS stating my job duties are 95% sedentary. She explained to me that since I'm not medically cleared for full duty, I can not work around inmates or have contact with inmates in a Correctional facility because the state is not going to be liable for me if I got injured inside a hazardous Correctional environment. My job duties states that work is performed in an adult Correctional environment and involves frequent contact with convicted felons who may become violent - see I. My job description also states that CCMSII must pass a physical examination per standard for Correctional training that are listed in detail in the Code of Maryland Regulations 12.10.01.04-see I. In that regulation it states the applicant must be able to perform duties of the mandated position for which the applicant is applying as determined by correctional unit - see J. Well ECI, the Correctional unit, has determined that I am no longer able to perform my duties of the position. She referred me to contact Karen Murphy, Executive Director from Human Resources Services Division for the Department of Public Safety for more information. I emailed her for more information. Ms. Murphy said ECI separated me from my position appropriately because my position is included in the list of mandatory classifications and is considered to be institutional support staff-see K. Per COMAR, institutional support staff means a mandated employee who performs one or more of the duties of a Correctional Officer, but whose primary duties are other than a Correctional Officer, Classification Counselor, Parole and Probation Agent, or monitor-see L. COMAR also establishes the standards for mandated employee training for classification counselors which includes training in security, custody, and control of inmates also in attachment M. She also states that the employee is required to interact with inmates and must be certified by the training commission. This brings us back to COMAR in regards to being able to perform the duties as determined by a Correctional unit- see J. During a labor management meeting from 3/16/10, Warden Green states when we have emergency exercises we do use Case Management. Then Assistant Warden Dryden states that during a riot at WCI Case Management was needed- see N. All this information contradicts what Ms. Brittingham said in her memo when she stated as to my duties, that I would not be required to act as a Correctional Officer in a time of emergency. If that was true, then why is it mandatory that we receive training like a Correctional Officer and why have CCMSIIs been ordered to do Correctional Officer duties in the past to meet the needs of the institution? If that's not allowed then CCMS should file a complaint on having to do those duties and putting them in danger.
On November 19, 2015, I had an administrative hearing on my case in front of Administrative Law Judge David Hofstetter. At that time I removed my request for accidental disability retirement benefits and pursued ordinary disability retirement benefits. During my hearing, I testified that ECI would not allow me to have any contact with inmates after I returned to work during that short period that I was on limited light duty before I was separated- see O. The Assistant Attorney General Jill Leiner gave me examples of CCMS duties and asked me why I couldn't perform them and I repeatedly answered her that I could but ECI would not let me- see P. I testified that during the time I returned back to work, ECI secluded me in an office and would not allow me to have contact with inmates - see O again. I also testified that I had been ordered to work as a Correctional Officer in the past where I had to stand feeds during chow and help pat search inmates as they returned back to their housing units which is a primary duty of a Correctional Officer - see Q. Judge Hofstetter did not include any of that testimony I gave in his report on his decision.
Then the state called my former Correctional Case Management Supervisor, Jon Scramlin as a witness. He testified against me stating Case Management duties are 95% sedentary and that CCMS are never required to act in the capacity of a Correctional Officer-see R. However, he then states that there was this one occasion where we were asked to assist. I remember that day very well. It was the morning of Friday, August 5, 2011. Facility Administrator, Darryl Webster ordered Mr. Scramlin to send two CCMS to work inside the control center of a housing unit that was being searched during a mass shakedown at the Eastern Correctional Institution-Annex. Working inside the control center of a housing unit is another primary duty of a Correctional Officer. FA Webster wanted us to work inside the control center to free up the the Sargent and the CO who was working second in control so they could help out with the cell searches that were being done. No case managers wanted to do it but Mr. Scramlin said he needed 2 volunteers or he would have to pick two to send down. So Case Manager, xxxxxxxx said he would go down and then an office secretary xxxxxx said she would go down with him. Those were the two people he sent down to the housing unit to work inside the control center. Mr. xxxxx, the CCMS II that worked inside the control center is permitted just as I had testified when I said that case managers can be used to perform Correctional Officer duties in a time of an emergency. However, Ms. xxxxxx, the Office Secretary II that he sent to work inside the control center in the housing unit is an unauthorized non-Correctional employee who is not permitted to work inside any control center within the institution. Allowing an unauthorized non-Correctional employee such as an office secretary clearly violates Division of Correction policy because a non-Correctional employee is not to perform security, custody, and control functions within the Correctional setting. Not only is this a serious violation of DOC policy but a huge risk to all staff, inmates and most of all to public safety. It wouldn't had been any different if someone off the street had been allowed to walk inside the control center and control the housing unit. She does not have the required training for that. That afternoon, Facility Administrator Webster emailed all the staff in the Case Management Department including Mr. Scramlin, Mr. xxxx and Ms. xxxxx thanking us for helping out that day in the housing unit-see S. Later Facility Administrator Webster came in the Case Management department and walked around in a circle pointing in an intimidating manner to each and every one of the Case Managers in the office including me asking who reported to the union that an office secretary worked inside the control center earlier. Warden Kathleen Green was made aware of that violation as well but instead of someone being disciplined for it, it was quickly brushed under the rug. A violation like that could have quickly blown up into a serious hostage situation like Delaware experienced last week if Ms. Xxxxx had opened the wrong door in the housing unit either allowing inmates to get out of where they were being held during the mass shakedown or worse if she had opened the door to the control unit to allow an unauthorized person like herself inside or an inmate that could have taken control of the unit. Therefore, Mr. Scramlin not only allowed a CCMSII to work as a Correctional Officer and lied under oath stating they are never required to but he also allowed a non-Correctional employee to work as a Correctional Officer when that is not permitted. Ms. Leiner used his testimony in her rebuttal argument-see T.
Now as if I didn't have enough state opinions from ECI and MSRPS regarding my job but now I also have the state Dr, Dr. Hanley's opinion during my administrative hearing. He states that my termination from ECI was inappropriate and that they fired me-see U.
Administrative Judge Hofstetter gave a lot of weight to Mr. Scramlin's false testimony and Dr. Hanley's testimony to also recommended denial of ordinary disability retirement benefits-see U.
My hearing in front of the Board of Trustees was on October 18, 2016 where Mr. Silberman represented me and requested that I be granted ordinary disability retirement benefits. I thought the Board of Trustees would use common sense to see that I returned back to work as soon as the Dr. cleared me to and I wanted to continue working my CCMS II position at ECI but was separated so I could no longer work there and that they would grant me ordinary disability retirement benefits. I am extremely disappointed in Board of Trustee Sheila Hill who served as a Correctional Officer for more than 25 years. She out of all people should know that you can't work in a Correctional Institution if not medically cleared for full duty. I was hoping she would provide insight to the other Board of Trustee members so they would at least grant me ordinary disability but I received my decision on October 24, 2016 that the Board of Trustees also denied me for ordinary disability retirement benefits for my fourth and final appeal-see V.
Before my workplace accident, I was an outstanding State of MD Employee at ECI. I was awarded Employee of the Quarter during the first quarter of 2009 and had a great working relationship with the staff and administration especially former Assistant Wardens of Programs and Services Ronald Dryden and Mary Cooper-see W. I was nominated for Employee of the Year and received outstanding performance evaluations for almost the whole time while I was employed there. I attached two of my outstanding evaluations I received and one of them being from Mr. Scramlin that I received before my injury. I volunteered for and performed extra duties while I worked as a CCMS II. I also filled in and carried out Supervisor duties for Case Management Supervisors during their absence for years including for Mr. Scramlin. I find it very disheartening that the state of MD would treat myself or any state employee in a manner such as this after their position has been stripped away from them at no fault of their own. Outside of work I was also a responsible person who always paid my bills on time and had excellent credit. This ongoing battle has caused me to let a lot of my bills go which has negatively impacted my credit and has caused me many bouts of depression.
This is why I am writing you. The MSPRS has failed me after ECI won't allow me to report for work anymore. How is this fair to me? Two state of MD agencies and even the state Doctor all have issued contradicting decisions in regards to my position and my job duties all with negative outcomes for me. ECI won't allow me to work there anymore to protect the state from being liable for me and the MSRPS won't grant me ordinary disability retirement because they find that I'm still capable of doing my normal job duties that ECI won't allow to me perform anymore. Then on top of it all the state Doctor testifies that I was wrongfully terminated. It is absolutely disgusting that the state can protect themselves from liability and then penalize me out of a job and my early retirement benefits so I don't have any financial protection or any medical benefits in the process. I am left with absolutely nothing to show for almost 12 years of outstanding service I have with the State of MD. Due to the limited amount of state jobs on the Eastern Shore, it's very difficult for me to find another state job especially one that pays a grade 16 as I had. This loophole needs to be addressed and fixed so this doesn't happen to any other Correctional State Employees in the future. The current policies need to be written differently to state that Correctional Employees who are mandated to work in a Correctional setting need to be medically cleared for full duty. The lack of this information on the CCMS II job description allows MSRPS to interpret it to their advantage to deny Correctional Employees their early disability retirement benefits as they have
I hope as you are reading this that you are as appalled as I am with the lack of common sense used in determining all four denials for ordinary disability retirement benefits in my case. MSRPS has focused solely on my job duties being sedentary but have completely ignored the fact that I must be able to have contact with inmates daily to carry out those sedentary duties. Seeing inmates is my main job duty that I can no longer perform because of my permanent medical restrictions. If I am not allowed to have contact with inmates as Ms. Murphy stated in her email than all my other job duties are irrelevant. During my administrative hearing, Mrs. Leiner stated it was unfortunate that I lost my job but it wasn't MSRPS's responsibility to provide me with disability retirement benefits because my job duties are mostly sedentary. The MSRPS and medical board needs to be notified of the fact that a Correctional employee must be medically cleared for full duty to work inside a Correctional facility and that my primary duty of my job is having contact with inmates. They should have a duty to recognize that fact and grant me ordinary disability retirement since I can no longer work in that hazardous environment. How long can the state of MD have it both ways? More importantly, how can ECI have it both ways? I'm tired of the games that ECI has been playing with me on my case. Their foolishness needs to be stopped and Personnel and Mr. Scramlin need to be held accountable for their false information they purposely provided in regards to my job duties that caused me to lose my case. Just goes to show you that it's not only Correctional Officers and inmates who are corrupt inside that institution as they were exposed recently by the federal investigation. It's very interesting that in a different administrative case OAH No.: MSDE-BE-01-200100010, there was a Maryland State Employee who was found incompetent of her teaching job. She was separated from her job and was approved for ordinary disability retirement benefits but she declined to submit the paperwork to receive her benefits because she wanted to be approved for accidental disability retirement benefits. If she wasn't approved for accidental disability retirement benefits, then she wanted to be allowed back to her job as a Teacher. My administrative hearing Judge, Judge Hofstetter was the same Judge for that case. In his report he states the Appellant advances two contradictory positions and that she can not have it both ways-see W. So how can two state agencies give two contradicting positions in regards to my job? Why can an incompetent State Employee get approved ordinary disability retirement benefits but an outstanding State Employee is discriminated against receiving ordinary disability retirement benefits? Furthermore, isn’t ECI in violation of the attached Secretary’s directive 02-98 which is the implementation of executive order 01.01.1995.19 code of fair employment practices-see X. Article V under accommodations A., it states reasonable accommodation shall be provided for all qualified applicants for employment and state employees with disabilities, consistent with the requirements of federal and state law. ECI is the biggest Correctional Institution in Maryland. Personnel could have accommodated me so I could have worked in a different department with no inmate contact but they chose not to. Again because of that I should be entitled to ordinary disability retirement benefits which would continue to provide me my medical benefits.
I included a copy of the closing arguments from my administrative hearing and I ask you, do I deserve this? I appreciate any time given to this matter. I know you are familiar with CCMS duties and how they are similar to those of Correctional Officers since house bill 1438 was approved by you last year to include CCMS in the Correctional Officers twenty year retirement system. When CCMS first pursued legislature changes to include them in the Correctional Officers retirement system in 2007, a few of them testified on the duties that CCMS have to do in a Correctional setting- see Y. No Correctional employee within the State of MD should ever have to endure the “unfortunate” circumstances as I have as Mrs. Leiner stated. Thank you.