BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Former deputy appeals firing

Deputy retains attorney to fight termination

A former Ward County deputy has retained an attorney to fight his termination and continue the grievance process he began last fall.

Tim Poston is represented by Redmann Law in Bismarck, which sent a letter to the county human resources director this week to state that Poston plans to avail himself of all grievance and appeal processes allowed under policy and law. Attorney Chris Redmann asked the county to respond in writing if it plans not to allow Poston to contest his termination.

“Deputy Poston’s termination reeks of reprisal, personal animas, vendetta, and nepotism,” Redmann wrote.

“Deputy Poston is protected under state and federal law for conduct which Ward County is using to justify termination,” he added, calling the termination “a flippant disregard for Deputy Poston’s statutory rights.”

The county’s attorney, Howard Swanson, did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.

Redmann said the list of reasons for Poston’s firing “serve as nothing more than cannon fodder to bolster an otherwise untenable, indefensible termination. The Sheriff’s continued reliance on old, unofficial, uninvestigated allegations to substantiate disciplinary action is unwarranted and violative of progressive discipline policies of the Department and of the County. Certainly, the citizens of Ward County expect more from their elected (and appointed) officials.”

Last month’s termination letter from Sheriff Bob Barnard, who was appointed to his job last April, stated Poston conducted himself “in a manner which has been unbecoming to a law enforcement officer.” Specifically, Poston was said to have:

® driven aggressively as a deputy.

® been insubordinate in calling for the sheriff’s dismissal and making allegations against the sheriff for personal benefit.

® failed to comply with the department’s uniform policy and subsequently made reports to the media claiming the department disrespected Canadian veterans. (Poston was told Nov. 9 to remove a Canadian Remembrance Day poppy from his uniform. An article about the incident was published in the Brandon Sun in Manitoba).

® acted disorderly and unprofessionally in conduct and statements made to the county commission and personnel committee during official meetings.

® harassed county employees, leading to requests to the sheriff’s office from three department heads to restrain his presence.

® followed and badgered the human resources director, alarming co-workers who activated their panic alarms to trigger law enforcement response.

Poston began working for the sheriff’s department in April 2016 as a patrol deputy and was transferred to the civil process division in November 2016.

Poston said Thursday that he is challenging his Dec. 27 termination and his previous grievances that were rejected by the county.

On Dec. 22, the Ward County Personnel Committee, consisting of County Commissioners Alan Walter and Jim Rostad, rejected Poston’s grievance over being placed on unpaid leave. Poston maintained the medication he was taking due to stress caused by his work environment did not affect his ability to perform regular work. He had said if Sheriff Bob Barnard disagreed, he should assign him light-duty tasks rather than sideline him. He asked to be paid for his time away from the department while pursuing his grievance.

Previously, Poston had alleged sexual harassment by the state’s attorney and hostile work environment and discrimination based on his Canadian citizenship. He asked the county commission to seek the resignation of both State’s Attorney Roza Larson and Barnard.

The commission, acting on advice of a special investigator, took no disciplinary action other than to have a Personnel Committee representative speak to Larson about tolerance in person-to-person physical contact and the potential for a joke to be perceived as offensive.

Poston’s complaint against Barnard came after being suspended for five days last June. The disciplinary letter listed various reasons for suspension, including two incidents of driving aggressively and not meeting the standards of professionalism as well as forcefully shoving a table into a seated inmate. Barnard suspended Poston an additional five days for using his credentials during his suspension while reporting a suspicious vehicle to Minot Police. The Personnel Committee upheld the first suspension but dismissed the second.

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