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Former HR chief of personnel says her termination was “retaliatory”

Human Resources director Lynn Pulou-Alaimalo
And that she supported a different gubernatorial team

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Former Human Resources Department chief of personnel, Irene L. Uhrle-Anipale had shared with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) the two reasons, she believes, were behind her termination earlier this year by Human Resources director Lynn Pulou-Alaimalo.

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.”

In the termination letter, Pulou-Alaimalo, claimed that — among other things — the reason for termination is that the Anipale showed up late for work too often.  According to the director, the department conducted a thorough investigation into matters concerning staff. “Information gathered from those affected by your actions warrants immediate remedy on my part as a director,” Pulou-Alaimalo wrote to Anipale,

“Behavior that has been perceived by staff as bullying is not tolerated and requires action to be taken to prevent this from continuing,” she said and referenced local law regarding such behavior.

During the ALJ appeal process, Anipale filed a written Apr. 1st response to arguments made by the government attorney representing ASG/DHR. Anipale argued that she was served with her final letter of termination on March 12th and identified the DHR personnel who served her with the letter.

She also informed the ALJ that the person who served her with the termination letter “was a janitor until I was terminated” and this individual is now clerk with the DHR records division.

Anipale also responded to a DHR employee, who signed a “grievance letter against me”, saying that “I never had any issue with this particular employee”, who was “warned a couple of times of been tardy.”

And this same employee has since been promoted after Anipale’s termination from the personnel chief position.

Anipale also shared with the ALJ her belief of why she was terminated and the filing provides some answers the same question that has been asked by current and former DHR employees as well as others as to why she was terminated.

 Two DHR employees, who asked not be identified in this story but claim to have full knowledge of this particular matter, claim that Pulou-Alaimalo was “getting even” with Anipale, who was strict with her staff during her time as chief of personnel. Another DHR employee had told Samoa News earlier this year that Anipale was terminated as she campaigned and supported a different gubernatorial team.

“I firmly believe that Director Pulou-Alaimalo’s actions against me are rooted in her intense dislike of me for two reasons, plus the fact that I campaigned for the losing gubernatorial side,” Anipale informed the ALJ.

The first reason is that, when Pulou-Alaimalo “worked as a personnel management specialist under my supervision, I had warned her several times about her continuous tardiness,” Anipale said.

“Like the rest of the employees under my supervision, I had her sign the records I kept of her tardies. She was tardy at least once a week,” said Anipale, who submitted Pulou-Alaimalo’s tardy records to the ALJ.

And the second reason, according to Anipale, is that when Pulou-Alaimalo was a personnel management specialist, “I constantly questioned her written actions, which often times consisted of prohibited changes to employee Form 35s, etc..”

Anipale also submitted as evidence to the ALJ what she described as “numerous documents [Pulou-Alaimalo] altered and my comments.”

“Therefore, I believe that because of the above reprimands over a span of years during our working relationship, Director Pulou-Alaimalo had planned to terminate me once the opportunity presented itself,” Anipale said.

A hand written notation on the filing documents, states that Anipale’s termination letter was the “1st termination letter” that Pulou-Alaimalo signed as the Acting DHR director, and that the DHR letter head still shows Pulou-Alaimalo as “acting director”.

Anipale’s Apr. 1st filing with the ALJ is among the documents included in her Apr. 27th letter to Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga, seeking his assistance. Anipale has filed a new appeal with the ALJ after she was reassigned by Pulou-Alaimalo to the local Homeland Security Department and she has also filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (See Samoa News online Wednesday for details.)