CN 1995-380
Created By: Kathy Dedon on 01/28/1998 at 09:52 AM
Category: Ethics Charges
Caption:


LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS

DATED: October 16, 1997 OPINION NO. CN: 95-380
RE: Employment of Caroline Dominique and Lyn Martin in the Assumption Parish Office of Family Services

The Louisiana Board of Ethics (the “Board”), the successor body to the Commission on Ethics for Public Employees, at its August 28, 1997 meeting, conducted a public hearing for the purpose of exploring the following:
I.
CHARGES

On the basis of the evidence and testimony adduced, and on the basis of a stipulation of facts entered into between counsel for the Board and counsel for the respondents, the Board now makes the following essential:
II.
FINDING OF FACTS
1.
Carolyn Dominique has been the administrator of the Assumption Parish Office of Family Support in Napoleonville since March of 1994. Her official title is Department of Social Services (DSS) Parish Manager 2. There are twelve employees in the Assumption Parish office. According to the Office’s organizational chart, Carolyn Dominique is the top-ranking employee.
2.
Carolyn Dominique’s job description states that she is the “top managerial level” employee of the Assumption Parish Office and is “responsible for recruiting, interviewing and hiring.”
3.
Lyn Martin is the daughter of Carolyn Dominique.
4.
Lyn Martin began working for DSS in the Lafourche Parish office in Thibodaux on September 3, 1991.
5.
Effective June 5, 1995, Lyn Martin received a lateral transfer from the Lafourche Parish office to the Assumption Parish office for the position of caseworker assistant. Carolyn Dominique, along with Alvin L. Campo of the Lafourche Parish Office and Howard L. Prejean, Assistant Secretary, signed the Personnel Action Form authorizing Lyn Martin’s transfer.
6.
If called to testify, Lyn Martin would state that another caseworker assistant in the Assumption Parish office informed her of the opening. She then submitted an application and was interviewed and hired by Carol Naquin, then Office Coordinator for the Assumption Parish office.
7.
The position was not advertised, and no one else was interviewed for the position. If called to testify, Carolyn Dominique would justify the decision not to advertise pursuant to DSS Rule C-113.4 which allows Cost Center Managers to choose not to announce for the lowest level positions in the Cost Center. Carolyn Dominique is the Cost Center Manager for the Assumption Parish office.
8.
Since her employment in the Assumption Parish office, Lyn Martin has been directly supervised by Carol Naquin, Jerilynn Naquin and currently, Kathy Cedotal. If called to testify Carolyn Dominique would state that she informed Lyn Martin that if additional supervision was necessary, Ms. Martin should go directly to Robert Ledet in the regional OFS office in Thibodaux.
9.
Lyn Martin’s Performance Evaluation Statement, for her evaluation conducted on February 3, 1996, contains the signatures of Carol Naquin as Supervisor and Carolyn Dominique as the Reviewing Official. The Performance Evaluation Statement for 1997, contains the signatures of Kathy Cedotal as Supervisor and Jerilynn M. Naquin as Reviewing Official.
10.
Office of Family Services Human Resources Director Ed Norwood gave verbal clearance for Ms. Martin to be hired in the Assumption Parish office. If called to testify, Mr. Norwood would state that he believes that DSS department policy does not prevent Ms. Martin’s employment in the office where her mother is Parish Manager. The DSS Policy Statement regarding nepotism states, in pertinent part: “The Agency has no policy against employment of relatives if one such employee does not supervise the other.”
11.
Office of Family Services Human Resources Director Ed Norwood stated that it was his belief that Carolyn Dominique was not an agency head; rather, he understood the agency head to be the Assistant Secretary for the Department. He further testified that the Assistant Secretary is the appointing authority with the authority to hire and fire, but that some of this authority was delegated.
III.
PRINCIPLES OF LAW
The section in the Code of Governmental Ethics (“the code”) at issue here is Section 1119A which provides:
When reviewing this prohibition, the definition of “agency head,” found at Section 1102(3) of the Code must be consulted. That definition states:
An “agency” means a “department, office, division . . . or other organizational unit of a governmental entity. R.S. 42:1102(2)(a). The definition of “immediate family” also controls. That definition provides:
IV.
OPINION
It is the opinion of the Board that Carolyn Dominique and Lyn Martin each violated Section 1119A of the Code. Ms. Dominique was clearly the agency head of the Assumption Parish Office of Family Support in that she served as the chief executive or administrative officer for that office. Her daughter was therefore prohibited from being employed within that agency. The lateral transfer of Lyn Martin to the Assumption Parish Office was not the type of normal promotional advancement which is allowed under certain circumstances as outlined in Section 1119C of the Code. Rather, it simply placed Ms. Martin in a position of being employed in the agency of her mother, as prohibited by Section 1119A of the Code.
The Board is mindful that this violation occurred as a direct result of advice received from employees within the Department of Social Services. The Board therefore declines to impose a monetary penalty in this case. However, this ongoing violation of Section 1119A of the Code must be resolved.
The Board therefore instructs that within 60 days from publication of this opinion the situation must be resolved by Lyn Martin discontinuing her employment in the Assumption Parish Office or Carolyn Dominique discontinuing her service as the head of the Assumption Parish Office. If this situation is not voluntarily resolved, Lyn Martin must be removed from her position in the Assumption Parish Office by virtue of the Board’s authority contained in Section 1153B of the Code of Governmental Ethics. Further, pursuant to the Board’s authority in Sections 1161B and C of the Code, the Department of Social Services is directed to assist in correcting this violation of the Code.
V.
DECREE
On motion duly made and seconded and unanimously approved and for reasons given:
IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the Board finds as a matter of fact and conclusion of law that Lyn Martin violated Section 1119A of the Code by virtue of her employment in the Assumption Parish Office of Family Support while her mother served as manager of that office.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the Board finds as a matter of fact and conclusion of law that Carolyn Dominique violated Section 1119A of the Code of Governmental Ethics by virtue of the employment of her daughter, Lyn Martin, in the Assumption Parish Office of Family Support while Carolyn Dominique served as parish manager for that office.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED ADJUDGED AND DECREED that this ongoing violation of Section 1119A of the Code must be resolved within 60 days of publication of this opinion. If the violation is not resolved within 60 days, Lyn Martin is ordered removed from her position with the Assumption Parish Office of Family Support. The Department of Social Services is directed to assist in correcting this violation.
By Order of the Board this 16th day of October , 1997


s/ Robert L. Roland s/ Harry Blumenthal, Jr.
Robert L. Roland, Chairman Harry Blumenthal, Jr., Vice Chairman



s/ Robert P. Bareikis s/ E. L. Guidry, Jr.
Dr. Robert P. Bareikis Judge E. L. Guidry, Jr.



s/ Virgil Orr s/ Revius O. Ortique, Jr.
Dr. Virgil Orr Justice Revius O. Ortique, Jr.



s/ T. O. Perry, Jr. s/ Ronald L. Sawyer
T. O. Perry, Jr. Ronald L. Sawyer



Absent and did not participate s/ Edwin O. Ware
Nathan J. Thornton, Jr. Edwin O. Ware



s/ Carole Cotton Winn
Rev. Carole Cotton Winn
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