The decision to lay off Sharon Marable
says, had nothing to do with her
job performance or her
"We did a reorganization," he
said with frustration."If people want to make it into something else, they can make it into something else."
That reorganization earlier in the year resulted in the elimination of one state employee: Marable
, a $148,000-a-year assistant medical director and the only African-American doctor at the state Department
has appealed Gifford's decision to the state Personnel Appeals Board, which listened for three hours yesterday as the health director explained the circumstances that preceded Marable's removal.
"It feels very good to be with people who believe in what you believe in, which is justice," said Marable
, a self-proclaimed "civil-rights baby," noting that her
father marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.A sheet of paper in front of her
during the hearing quoted King: "Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice," it read.
And Labinger also produced several memos detailing combative exchanges between Marable
and her supervisors in the months immediately preceding her removal.
...In May 2006, Gifford issued a formal letter of reprimand to Marable for making "disparaging remarks concerning the policy decisions of the director of health and the operation of the department" during a Centers for Disease Control conference.
The letter also noted an incident in which Marable
told a newspaper reporter that "policy changes being made within the department were ill-advised" and then used an expletive to describe her
"job situation."In October, Marable's direct supervisor, Associate Director of Health Ana Novais, reprimanded her again for her alleged behavior during a meeting.
"You addressed me in terms that I deem disrespectful and unprofessional.I am gravely concerned with your conduct," Novais wrote.Marable's
problems with Novais did not end there.
In a memo dated Dec. 20, 2006, Novais threatened "suspension and/or termination" because Marable
did not get department permission to serve on a national committee for pandemic flu preparation. (In a rebuttal, Marable
noted that the volunteer committee would not cut into her
state work hours.She
added that Gifford had congratulated her
on the appointment.)
In the same memo, Novais lists another issue of "considerable concern.""Last week the department received a complaint that during a public meeting … you were putting lotion on your feet," she
later asked that the reprimand be removed from her
file.The request was initially denied.But on April 25, after Marable
had been notified of her
received notice that Novais' last written reprimand would be removed from her
The memos suggest the department had motivation to lay off Marable
"for reasons other than those stated," Labinger said.
...Marable, who had worked at the department since 1998, was the least senior doctor at her pay grade, he said.