County hires firm; fired engineer employee appeals

Attorney to get $175 per hour

WARREN — A union member fired from his position at the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office filed an appeal of an arbitrator’s decision to uphold his firing, and Trumbull County commissioners hired a firm to defend against the appeal.

The case was filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court before Judge W. Wyatt McKay by Brain J. Eastman, general counsel for the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 11.

Commissioners approved a $175 per hour contract appointing attorney David Riepenhoff of Fishel Hass Kim Albrecht Downey LLP to work with attorney Matt Blair, an employee of the engineer’s office.

Kendall Lee Stauffer was fired in April 2016 after reports he threatened a supervisor.

According to the engineer’s office, he was heard saying within earshot of the highway department supervisor, “when this is all done and said, there will be a pile of people and I will be standing on top,” according to court documents. He was also accused of lying about the incident.

He filed a grievance later that month and the case went to arbitration in September. The union argued the termination did not follow the union’s contract.

An arbitrator denied Stauffer’s grievance Oct. 20, upholding his termination.

“It is unfortunate but true that any inkling of violence in the work place has become a more serious item that cannot be ignored nor can one speculate upon whether or not such statements have viability,” the arbitrator wrote. “The engineer’s decision to terminate cannot be found to be without just cause.”

Eastman’s motion states the court can vacate the ruling if the arbitrator “exceeded or imperfectly executed his authority” and when the result doesn’t “rationally flow” from the terms of the union agreement.