Department of Economic Security employees will return to their job, after being fired

Posted at 7:31 AM, Jan 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-01 23:13:02-05

After months of emotional distress and financial hardship, former state workers says they feel vindicated by offers of reemployment at the Department of Economic Security.  

Terra Trammell says she received a call Tuesday. On January 9, she can walk back into DES and resume her job as a trainer for public benefits. She worked for the agency for 11 years before she was terminated in September.

"They know when I'm coming back," Trammell said. "I'm so excited to just get back to what I love."

Former DES director Tim Jeffries had called some employees bullies and liars. His agency, which provides social services and unemployment benefits, had slashed hundreds of jobs, sometimes with no further explanation to the employee. The governor forced Jeffries to resign just before Thanksgiving.   

The state also launched a massive review of human resources decisions for 267 employees who filed requests. Forty were offered reemployment since Christmas. The rest will not get their jobs back.

"There really were a lot of people there who shouldn't be there," Trammell said, "but they went too far."

The workers have seven days to decide whether to accept the reemployment offer.

"It was a kick in the gut," Christine Duncanson remembers about the day she was fired as a benefit over-payment specialist.  She says she is considering DES's offer of an alternate position, and the last few months has been "kind of a roller coaster." 

Working 22 years at DES before she was unexpectedly fired, Leisa Bell says she will accept her IT project management job back.  

"Everyone has the expectation that you go to work, do a good job, you have it the next day," Bell said.

Trammell says she is grateful that the governor's office took action after so many employees complained.

"Thank you for giving me the opportunity to have my life back," Trammell said.