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Fired veterans service officer appeals to Labor Department

February 15, 2018

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — A former veterans service officer in southeastern South Dakota is appealing her firing to the state’s Labor Department.

Jessica Davidson alleges that she was fired in November because she blew the whistle on the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. She had raised concerns about errors in veterans’ files and what she felt was the improper use of military insignia on souvenir coins.

Labor Deputy Secretary Tom Hart told the Daily Republic that an administrative law judge will conduct a hearing and investigation into whether Davison County’s firing of Davidson broke state law. He said the typical grievance appeal takes three to five months to complete.

In her grievance resolution letter, Davidson alleges that the county commission didn’t follow its policy manual for personnel in several areas, such as determining a reason for termination. She also called her firing “improper and unlawful.”

County Deputy State’s Attorney James Taylor says Davidson’s claims are without merit. Taylor responded in a letter that the county’s personnel manual “clearly states that employment with the County is at will,” which means Davison County can terminate employment at any time, with or without cause or advance notice.

Taylor said Davidson signed a receipt of reading the personnel manual in 2014.

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