POLK COUNTY, Iowa – The Iowa Court of Appeals says the firing of a sergeant at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in 2017 was justified.
In the ruling issued Wednesday, the court says Dan Charleston’s termination, due to insubordination and his allowance of hostile behavior at work, was warranted.
Charleston was fired in June of 2017 after several incidences where he ignored orders from supervisors about an assignment list for court-trips.
Making the assignments had been one of his duties but in 2015 complaints were made that he favored certain co-workers in making the list. Another employee was assigned the task and Charleston’s job was to verify and update the list.
Charleston was also told that he needed to check with a supervisor before making any changes to the list. In June 2015 he was reprimanded for changing the schedule without getting approval from a supervisor and in April of 2016 he was suspended for doing the same thing.
A labor relations manager for Polk County had also been investigating claims of a hostile workplace and gender discrimination made against Charleston.
In May of 2016, Charleston changed the schedule again and his supervisor reprimanded him and recommended demotion. After superiors reviewed the situation they recommended he be terminated instead because “…the sheriff’s office could not count on Charleston to follow orders.”
An appeal was made to the Polk County Civic Service Commission but they agreed Charleston’s firing was justified.
Charleston appealed the commission’s decision in district court, claiming it was biased because its members were all Democrats and he had run as a Republican challenger to Sheriff Bill McCarthy in a recent election. The court ruled to back up the commission’s decision.
The ruling by the Court of Appeals stated, “Finding substantial evidence in the record to support the commission’s decision, we affirm the termination of Charleston’s employment. And because Charleston did not present direct and compelling evidence to overcome the presumption of honesty and integrity of the commissioners, we conclude he had a fair hearing.”
This was the second time Charleston has been fired from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. An internal investigation started in 2004 over a feud with a female sergeant lead to the firing. He returned to work after the Civil Service Commission overturned his termination.