Former HR chief of personnel challenges transfer to HLS
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Former Human Resources Department chief of personnel, Irene L. Uhrle-Anipale, has filed a new appeal with Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) after she was reassigned by DHR director Lynn Pulou-Alaimalo to a different ASG department and has also filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
And Anipale has shared these new developments in her case with Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga in a letter last week that was also copied and sent, along with supporting documents, to Raymond Griffin, director of the EEOC Western Region-Hawaii office and Congresswoman Uifa’atali Aumua Amata.
Anipale, a 17-year career service employee, was terminated by the DHR director through a Mar. 11th letter and she appealed the termination to the ALJ, who ruled that — among other things — actions undertaken by Pulou-Alaimalo, “were outside the range of discretion delegated to her or the Human Resources Department, inconsistent with an agency rule of procedure, and violated statutory provisions.”
The ALJ reversed the termination decision and ordered that ASG/ DHR restore to Anipale any and all back-pay and leave to which she would have been entitled had the Mar. 11th letter terminating her employment not been issued. (See Samoa News edition Apr. 27th for details.)
In an Apr. 20th letter, Pulou-Alaimalo informed Anipale of receiving the ALJ decision and that “your leave entitlement will be processed and paid out as ordered” by the judge.
But the matter didn’t end there, as Pulou-Alaimalo, on the following day — in an Apr. 21st letter — informed Anipale of a “involuntary reassignment” to the local Homeland Security Department (ASDHS), where she would get a briefing on her official duties and responsibilities upon arrival.
Pulou-Alaimalo claimed that the reassignment action is in “the best interest of the government as the primary objectives” and the action was “effective immediately” and that the reassignment should not result in a reduction in grade or rate of compensation.
Under provisions of the American Samoa Administrative Code (ASAC 4.0804(a), “you have no right to appeal this administrative reassignment,” Pulou-Alaimalo explained in the letter to Anipale.
Also ASAC 4.0804(c) states that “failure of an employee to comply with an involuntary — administrative — reassignment shall result in … immediate separation,” the DHR director pointed out. She concluded saying that Anipale will be a “great asset” to ASDHS.
LETTER TO GOVERNOR
In her letter last week, Anipale appealed to the governor for assistance regarding the DHR director, whom, upon appointment as acting director, “immediately took away my seniority rights as Personnel Manager” — or chief of personnel.
“I have emails of my respectful appeal to her and her refusal to speak to me. One of the most horrendous acts she did was to replace trusted employees in Personnel [Division] with new and unscreened personnel who now have access to ASG employees’ confidential information,” she wrote to the governor. “When I inquired about that, she berated me.”
She also told the governor that she was terminated by the DHR director without provocation. And therefore she appealed the termination to the ALJ, who reversed the action. She also informed the governor of her reassignment to ASDHS despite the ALJ’s ruling.
And she wrote that she has filed another appeal to the ALJ to have Pulou-Alaimalo “held in criminal contempt due to blatant disobedience of the Judge’s court order.” Furthermore, she has filed a complaint with the federal EEOC for “Age Discrimination for the remarks she made to me in writing.”
The writing referred to by Anipale, pertains to a March response the DHR director provided to Anipale, who emailed Pulou-Alaimalo with concerns about giving unscreened, untrained personnel complete access to ASG employees confidential records without regard for the privacy of the employees.
The DHR director, who was “ignorant” of this concern, simply responded, “One of the tasks that I endeavor to do is to empower younger men and women of the staff to progress and gain more knowledge of the services we provide. To say that people I selected for the project have no knowledge or understanding is an old school attitude that I want to eliminate from this office,” according to Anipale’s filings with the ALJ, when she first appealed her termination.
Additionally the DHR director’s “statements amount to blatant age discrimination against me. Her statement... targeted those of us she refers to as ‘old school’. Her statements were discriminatory.”
In her letter to the governor, Anipale said she was “truly saddened” that Lemanu had selected a person who makes light of the confidential files of the 4,000-plus ASG employees, had defied a judge’s court order, and “deliberately disobeyed” the governor’s Mar. 23rd memo, “which clearly prohibits employee transfers.”
Anipale also told the governor that after his Mar. 23rd memorandum was circulated, the DHR director “continued to transfer, terminate and hire new HR employees.” Additionally, there “are hundreds who have been wronged” since the governor chose Pulou-Alaimalo as DHR director.
“I have worked for HR for 17 years and have never experienced the low morale at HR like it is now. I plead with you to right the immense wrongs that [Pulou-Alaimalo] has done in the four months you have been in office,” she wrote to the governor.
Anipale also provided to the governor, correspondence between her and the DHR director, including the Mar. 11th termination letter, filings with the ALJ and the ALJ’s Apr. 11th order. The governor was also informed that the letter and copies of correspondence were also being sent to EEOC and Uifa’atali.