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October 30, 2012

Farris fired as communications director for Jeffersonville

Leah Farris retains Larry Wilder as legal counsel after termination by Jeffersonville

JEFFERSONVILLE — Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore terminated the employment of Leah Farris, the city’s former communications director, on Friday, according to Farris’ attorney.

“The mayor called her into his office and terminated her, indicated that he did not believe that she had performed her job adequately,” said attorney Larry Wilder, whom Farris has retained, “and at that juncture, she left the building and has not been back.”

Moore confirmed that Farris no longer worked for the city when contacted Monday, but declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding Farris’ departure.

“It’s a personnel matter,” Moore said.

Moore said it’s “likely” that the city will hire another communications director, but could not say when. He characterized the issue of the person or persons the new communications director would report to as “uncertain.” The city council voted 6-3 last week to change the position to being under the purview of Parks Director Paul Northam. Previously, she reported to the mayor’s office.

Jeffersonville City Council President Ed Zastawny expressed surprise at Farris’ termination, and said he wasn’t aware that there had been any issues with her performance. Zastawny was one of the six council members to vote for the transfer of Farris to the parks department.

“My interactions with her had always been pleasant and professional,” Zastawny said. “I never had any issues with her at all.”

Wilder said that Farris had never received any written disciplinary action while employed by the city.

“Prior to her termination, she had not received anything in writing indicating her job performance was inadequate,” Wilder said. “Prior to her termination, she had not been called in to the human resources director’s office and informed that she needed to remediate her behavior or her job performance in any way. Prior to her termination, she had not been called in by the mayor or any other individual in the administration who held a higher position than her and given any instruction as it relates to how she needed to change her job performance in order to avoid termination.

“So it came as quite a shock to her that she was terminated, because it was her belief and expectation that she was performing her job adequately. It was her belief and her expectation that she had a career and a future with the city.”

Moore declined to comment on Wilder’s statement.

Wilder said that right now, Farris is in the process of applying for unemployment, and declined to say whether Farris intended to take legal action against the city.

“To say that there was anything tawdry or illegal about her discharge, it waits to be seen because it’s just so early on,” Wilder said. “But ... under the tenants of unemployment law, we do not believe she is ineligible for unemployment.”

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