Ex-Governor's Office Staffer Feels Wronged By Being Fired

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A former governor's office staffer says he feels wronged by being fired after returning from three months of U.S. Air National Guard training.

Eric Landis, a holdover from former Gov. Ernie Fletcher's advance team, received a three-sentence letter on Jan. 23 that told him "your services are no longer needed" without giving a reason.

Landis, 25, told the Lexington Herald-Leader he hasn't decided whether to appeal or take legal action, but said he felt he had been wronged by Gov. Steve Beshear's administration.

"I think they've violated both the federal and state laws," Landis said. "For what reasons, I do not know. I'm disappointed. I'm somewhat humiliated."

Dick Brown, Beshear's communications director, said the administration tried to work closely with Landis to place him in a suitable position in state government. Brown said Landis didn't respond to requests by the administration to submit a resume until Jan. 28, some 10 days after the termination letter was sent.

"From our perspective, we did everything we could to give him a job, help him stay employed," Brown said. "He was not responsive. That is why he was terminated."

Landis had signed up to join the Air National Guard last May and was sent on Sept. 12 for "active duty training," according to military papers Landis provided to the Herald-Leader.

By the time Landis returned to Kentucky and reported for work in the governor's office on Dec. 18, Beshear had defeated Fletcher in the election and taken office.

Landis remained in employment limbo with Beshear's administration for several weeks until receiving the termination letter last month.

State and federal laws bar agencies from discharging, without just cause, workers who were called into active duty during a certain period. For the state, that window is a year. The federal law provides for 180 days.

A key question regarding Landis' firing is whether his three-month training is considered "active duty."

Andy Crocker, general counsel with the Kentucky Personnel Board, said training isn't explicitly spelled out in the state statutes. But, at the very least, Landis would have automatic grounds to appeal his firing to the board, which can reinstate an employee.

Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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