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Arbitrator upholds MnDOT firing in aftermath of bridge collapse

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in Firing,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Sonia Morphew Pitt “abused the latitude accorded her” when she stayed on the East Coast for nearly two weeks after the August 2007 collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, an arbitrator found.

Pitt appealed her firing, arguing that she carried out her duties as director of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management while away, and that her expenses were approved.

The arbitrator, Christine Ver Ploeg, ruled that while Pitt deserved the benefit of the doubt on some travel expenses, she clearly misused her state-issued cell phone for personal calls. A legislative audit found that Pitt improperly billed the state for at least $26,000 in unauthorized expenses.

Ver Ploeg also rejected the idea that Pitt’s location was unimportant, citing reports of confusion and communication gaps between the collapse site and a command center.

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