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DHHS settlement to one-month staffer may be unconstitutional

The $37,000 paid out to N.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos’ chief of staff may be in violation of the state constitution which bars any public employees from receiving money for anything but “public service,” according to a report from a Raleigh television station.

ThomasAdamsWRAL had this report Thursday about the questionable legality of the $37,000 payment to Thomas Adams, Wos’ chief of staff who worked only a month before leaving his state job.

N.C. Policy Watch was the first to uncover details about Adam’s settlement (click here), which Wos later called a “separation” agreement in a legislative hearing last week, and obtained records of the settlement through a public records request.

From the WRAL report:

Department of Health and Human Services officials may have violated the North Carolina Constitution when they cut a $37,000 check to an outgoing worker on the job for only a month, personnel experts say.

Raleigh attorney Michael Byrne, who regularly represents state employees challenging their terminations, says the settlement appears to violate a section of the state constitution that explicitly prohibits payments to state workers for anything other than “public services.”

All told, DHHS paid Chief of Staff Thomas Adams $51,246 for a little more than four weeks of work. Aside from his regular salary, Adams took home $37,227 as part of a “settlement agreement” about four months after he left.

That settlement, signed by DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos and approved by State Budget Director Art Pope on July 30, said DHHS would pay the sum “in exchange for Mr. Adams’ agreement to waive all appeal rights and release the Department and its officials and employees from any liability or responsibility.”

To read the entire article, click here.

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