A new Warren County Personnel Policy was met with resistance from Road Superintendent Levie Glenn, who informed commissioners on Monday night that he will not allow County Commission oversight of his employees.
“As far as making a final decisions over the Highway Department’s employees, that’s my decision,” said Glenn. “I’m going to be fair about it and treat them right. I’m a team player, don’t get me wrong. It’s a resolution within the 81 ACT that the Highway Department can have its own personnel policy.”
On the agenda for commission consideration was approval of a “list of all county agencies, offices, bounds, and departments that will be governed by the Warren County Personnel Policy” and the newly created personnel policy.
The policy outlines all aspects related to employment, such as benefits and perks, human resources and legal information, health and safety, working conditions and hours, attendance and leave of absence, work attire and policies regarding anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, disciplinary actions, nepotism, etc.
County attorney Robert Bratcher agreed with Glenn, but not entirely.
“With all due respect to Superintendent Glenn, the Highway Department is specifically listed inside the statute as one of the departments that’s under base personnel policies. Now, the Highway Department, as well as any elected official, has the right to opt out of these policies. They have a very particular procedure of what they have to do to create their own policy,” said Bratcher.
Departments that opt out of the policy must select an attorney to review their policy to ensure it complies with applicable law, followed by the policy being presented to the County Commission annually, but not approved by the commission, says Bratcher.
“I operate on the uniform road law,” said Glenn. “I know the school system is separate. We’re, really, separate from all the other departments, which is what CTAS told me, ‘Levie, you don’t have to furnish an annual report. You are not under the same law as the elected officials that are under the County Commission.’ That’s the way it has always been.”
Glenn continued, “I want to be in charge of the county Highway Department employees. That was what I was elected to do. I don’t want somebody else up here making my decisions. That’s the reason that statute was in there for Highway Superintendents. There are quite a few of them who have their own personnel policy and that puts them in charge. They can operate more freely, more thoroughly, and they don’t have to worry about somebody second guessing them or making decisions on situations that come up.”
Commissioner Robert Hennessee attempted to mediate, “I don’t know what the disconnect is here, because you can write your own policy. You have that privilege. So, does Sheriff Myers, so does (Sanitation Department director) Josh Roberts, and so does Preston Denney (EMS director). You can do that. This is not saying that you cannot do that.”
Glenn replied, “Well, it’s bringing me on board with the whole county.”
“Well, you’re supposed to be on board with the whole county. You’re part of it,” said Hennessee.
Glenn replied, “I am but the law says I can have my own personnel policy. What you all are doing tonight is bringing me on board with everybody else as far as making a lot of decisions. What’s wrong with the way it has been? It’s been working.”
Commissioner Steven Helton said existing policy was outdated, did not include pertinent information and in some cases, did not comply with current laws. The county was attempting to unify across the county and ensure all employees are treated fairly regardless of the department in which they work.
Glenn stated his intention to update his employee policy using the newly generated countywide policy.
“I want to be a team player,” said Glenn. “The three major things, I’ll have them in there. I’m not trying to be an outsider. That’s is a privilege that the superintendents of Tennessee have under the Tennessee County Highway Officials Associations and it makes your day-to-day operations a lot smoother. Again, remember, everybody’s household is different. I’m just doing what I can do by law.”
Bratcher stated, “I think the primary dispute that I have with what Mr. Glenn said is that the process by which the elected official can opt out of the base policy requires that they create their own policy. That policy has to be approved by either the county attorney or any attorney that they hire themselves. That attorney has to create a report, which is given to the commission that states the policy is compliant with all state and federal laws. Once those steps have been done, that official brings their policy to the meeting and spreads it upon the minutes. It’s not voted on by the commission. However, you have to go through those steps. It has to be approved by somebody to make sure it complies with all laws.”
Until Glenn takes those steps, said Bratcher, his department will fall under the new countywide Personnel Policy once it is adopted by the commission.
That step was taken just moments later, when the full Warren County Commission unanimously approved the list of departments governed by the new policy and unanimously approved the new policy itself.