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Former ASVB employee fights termination as “arbitrary and capricious"

reporters@samoanews.com

A former employee of the American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau (ASVB) is fighting her termination and the matter is now pending before the Administrative Law Judge.

Irene Kane, a career service employee with the ASVB received a recommended termination on July 7, 2011.

Kane was hired by the ASVB in 2009 as an Information and Promotions Manager, according to a 2009 ASVB press release.

According to the complaint, several days later Kane responded,denying the allegations which accompanied the termination and requested an oral hearing. Details of allegations are not outlined in the complaint, and attempts to reach Kane’s legal counsel for comment were unsuccessful by press time.

Kane’s complaint was filed through her lawyer Sharron Rancourt.

The complaint states the following month the government followed up with a second letter to the recommendation to terminate employment for Kane.

On September 30, 2011, Kane, along with the government and their attorneys, held an oral hearing pursuant to ASG’s administrative personnel rules.

In October 5, 2011, the government made final recommendations to transfer Kane to another department as a result of the oral hearing.

“This recommendation was made in lieu of termination,” states the complaint.

According to the complaint,  from November 14, 2011to May 2, 2012 Kane did not receive any request to interview with either the Department of Commerce or the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA).

However she was interviewed at KVZK TV and the Energy Office.

Kane was told the KVZK TV position paid between $8,000 - $10,000 per year, well below the approximately $22,000 she was making at ASVB.

Kane believed this position would have been a demotion, not an administrative re-assignment or transfer.

Following Kane’s interview with Energy Office, she was informed her interview was a mere formality, as the position had been promised to another individual prior to the interview process taking place.

On May 2, 2012 Kane learned about the opportunity with the ASEPA. When Kane was following up with ASEPA to reconfirm her interview, she was told the Assistant Director of ASEPA, Va’asa Simanu was busy all day.

Kane attempted to follow up her interview however she was informed the Assistant Director was too busy, due to traveling.

The complaint notes after Kane persisted in scheduling an interview, the Assistant Director told her the interview was not really an interview, but just a screening.  

Kane continued to follow up with the ASEPA interview, and personally contacted the Director of ASEPA. “Her attempts were rebuffed and she was not contacted further about a position,” says the complaint.

According to the complaint, Kane learned that ASEPA required some science background, which she lacked.

Last month Kane received a second and final recommendation for termination, with the reasons including failure to participate in interviews for transfers.

Kane denied these allegations, given that circumstances surrounding the interviews were beyond her control.

According to the complaint, the June 12 termination letter references an interview with the Election office, however Kane alleges she was never contacted by the Election office.

Kane attempted to resolve the matter with the government lawyers, however that was not successful. On June 25, 2012 the ASG Department of Human Resources issued a termination notice to Kane.

The complaint further states that the government failed to follow procedures governing adverse employment actions for career service employees.

The complaint alleges that ASG’s decision on June 11, 2012 and the ASG Department of Human Resources decision dated June 25, 2012 violated Kane’s constitutional and statutory due process rights, was arbitrary and capricious, was against the weight of the evidence, was an abuse of discretion, contained erroneous finding of facts and contained incorrect conclusion of law.

“The decision to terminate Kane also violated the provision in the administrative code that mandates like penalties of like offenses.”

According to the complaint, the government failed to follow proper due process afforded to Kane as a career service employee.

Kane is asking the Administrative Law office to hold a hearing about the complaint and grant the following relief:

“A finding that the decision to terminate Kane violated her statutory and constitutional due process rights, was arbitrary and capricious, was an abuse of discretion, was against the weight of the evidence, contained erroneous findings of facts and contained erroneous conclusion of law. ”

“A finding that the ASG notices did not follow proper procedures in terminating Kane.

“A decision to reverse the termination of Kane and to reinstate Kane to her position with the ASG with all pay and benefits reinstated.

“In the alternative, a remand to the ASG with an order to follow proper procedures with respect to Kane’s adverse employment actions,” as well as awarding attorney fees and costs to Kane and “any other relief the ALJ deems appropriate and just.” 



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