LISBON - Former village employee Bill Bryan had the last word in his dispute with council.
Bryan, a long-time street department worker, was recently awarded unemployment benefits after reportedly deciding to retire in May rather than be fired. He will receive $313 a week in unemployment compensation for one year, starting July 25, with the village required to pay half. The cost to the village will be $8,138.
The most recent dispute with Bryan dates back to May 14, when Village Council met in closed session after the personnel committee decided to fire him for alleged insubordination. Following the closed session meeting that included Bryan, Village Solicitor Virginia Barborak reported he opted to retire and there would be no further action in regard to his termination.
Afterward, Bryan filed for unemployment benefits since he had already been served with his termination notice two days before the May 14 meeting. Besides, Bryan believed he was unfairly coerced by council into retiring based on bogus charges.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services agreed and approved his application, but council objected and filed an appeal. The JFS denied the appeal, saying he was fired without just cause and approved Bryan's claim.
Bryan, 55, had worked for the village off and on for 29 years, during which he took a leave of absence to serve four years in the U.S. Air Force. Bryan also served in the Air Force Reserves and is currently investigating how much it would cost him to "buy" some of his military time to determine the cost of applying those years toward his retirement total. After this is done, Bryan said he will file for retirement.
Bryan was also owed seven weeks of unused accumulated vacation and sick leave, which he opted to take in bimonthly payments instead of a lump sum.
Records provided by the village showed Bryan had been written up six times in the past five years, which officials maintained was three more than necessary during the time period to trigger in his automatic termination. The final straw occurred when Bryan was asked to retrieve a temporary street sign near the end of his shift and he refused.
"They we're grasping at straws when they did that," Bryan said.
He maintained the accusations were baseless and pointed out some of the complaints were put in his file without his signature acknowledging he had officially been advised of the complaint. He also noted prior disciplinary action had been dropped because there was some question whether council followed proper procedures.
The state, in its ruling, said the village claimed it had fired Bryan for violating policy but "evidence supports that the rule was not reasonable" and that Bryan was "discharged without just cause" under Ohio law.