WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Abusing power or following protocol? One New Hanover County employee claims her boss is harassing her, which could lead to her termination.
Dr. Jean McNeil has worked with New Hanover County Animal Control for more than 20 years. Now she fears the health director has it out for her.
"Harassment. That's all that he has," McNeil said of Health Director David Rice. "He uses problem employees against me to try and build a case, because he has nothing else to work with. My record is clear."
New Hanover County Animal Control Manager McNeil claims she's now a target and her job is in jeopardy all because she stood up to her boss.
McNeil says it dates back to Hurricane Irene. Her employees who worked during the storm were not paid emergency pay, so she fought for them.
"I went to Mr. Rice and said, 'This is still not resolved. I need to do something else about this,' and he said, 'Do what you have to do.' I told him I may have to go some place besides his level to get my people paid correctly," McNeil said.
McNeil claims the moment she took a stand things changed. When she went to him to discuss problem employees, she said Rice didn't do anything about it.
"These are long-term issues, things he's known about for many years and have sought his help with these individuals before, and rather than help me, he's taken them and used them against me," McNeil said.
McNeil's "problem employee" filed a grievance against her. McNeil says Rice bypassed the policy concerning how to handle this complaint and instead reported her to the state. Then he put her on administrative leave.
"The actions that he's done against me were already moving toward something along these lines, so it really wasn't a surprise," McNeil said.
The New Hanover County Board of Health met Wednesday. Since this is a personnel matter, the board went into closed session. About a half hour later they returned, but no decision was made. Because the Board of Health decided not to take any action, we asked the health director whether Dr. McNeil would be returning to work on Thursday, when her administrative leave is supposed to end. Rice said, "no comment."
McNeil is supposed to meet with Rice at the health department on Thursday afternoon. That's when she will find out what happens next. She's concerned she could be out of a job, but she doesn't want to speculate on what would happen if that's the case.
"I think I need to wait and see what happens there. I don't want to get ahead of myself, go someplace that is not existing yet. If it becomes a reality then i'll deal with it at that point," said McNeil.
We will keep you updated on the outcome of that meeting.
As for the emergency pay issue, we contacted the county's human resources department. They claim the employees who were already scheduled to work during Hurricane Irene were not entitled to emergency pay, even though we didn't see that written down anywhere in the county's policy and procedures guidelines.