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FIRST ON 3: Pender Co. Sheriff investigating leak of personnel file


BURGAW, NC (NEWS RELEASE FROM THE PENDER COUNTY MANAGER'S OFFICE) -– It is a violation of both North Carolina law and the Pender County Personnel and Administrative Policy to disclose protected information from an employee's personnel file. In response to the recent disclosure of confidential personnel information, the Pender County Sheriff's Department has been asked to investigate the unlawful disclosure and bring appropriate criminal charges against the person or persons responsible. Pender County takes seriously the responsibility to protect confidential information. At the conclusion of the criminal investigation, appropriate personnel action also will be taken should any current employee have participated in unlawful actions.

It is regrettable that someone chose to commit a criminal act in an attempt to disrupt the operations of the Pender County Health Department and to disparage a dedicated career public health employee. In order to create a more complete record, it should be noted that Shirley Steele's appeal of the disciplinary action has been resolved. The evidence established that Mrs. Steele followed the written policy for responding to "Sharp's Incidents" which had been approved by the Medical Director and the former Health Director. Neither NC law nor the Pender County Personnel and Administrative Policy allows for a suspension when an employee complies with written policy. Since it was determined that Mrs. Steele followed all appropriate policies, corrective action has been taken with regard to previous personnel actions made against her. Accordingly, Shirley Steele received her back pay for the period of suspension, and all documents related to the suspension and the incident have been removed from her personnel file.

Both Mrs. Steele and the Health Department have placed this issue behind them and are focusing on providing great public health services to Pender County citizens.

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