Senior official got 12K after grievance

Jun. 27, 2014 @ 03:59 PM

A senior High Point official who brought a grievance against City Manager Strib Boynton was paid $12,000 by the city after the case was resolved, public records show.
Was the payment to Human Relations Director Al Heggins part of a legal settlement?
City officials won’t say.
Heggins filed the complaint against Boynton after an alleged verbal confrontation between the two in February.
The City Council held several closed sessions on the matter and hired a Raleigh law firm to investigate. The dispute was settled for undisclosed terms in April.
The Enterprise on June 19 made a public records request of the city, asking for “a copy of any checks issued by the city to attorneys, investigators, mediators or any other party related to any grievance, complaint, settlement or fees associated with the city manager.”
The city released copies of three checks, including one for $12,000 from the city to Heggins on May 1.
The city would not disclose the reason for the payment. A description of the check on a voucher attached to it was redacted.
City Attorney JoAnne Carlyle said she could not say whether the check was part of a legal settlement because it’s not public information.
When asked whether the check was part of Heggins’ salary or was compensation related to any aspect of her work for the city, Carlyle said that it was not.
Reached by email Friday, Heggins said she was in fair housing training and not available to talk. When asked via email what the $12,000 check was for, she responded, “since the City released the information, the City will need to answer questions you may have.”
Heggins, who is paid an annual salary of $95,480, has been human relations director since August 2004.
Boynton, who retires next week, said he did not know anything about how the grievance was resolved because Carlyle and the council handled the matter. He was not at any of the closed sessions and did not sign the settlement agreement, he said.
Council members have declined to comment on the case on the grounds that it involves personnel issues.
In addition to the grievance with the city, Heggins filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Both complaints were resolved in a settlement that kept the terms confidential.
Copies of the other checks released by the city in response to the Enterprise’s request were for payments made to attorneys involved in the case:
• May 1 for $2,500 to Greensboro attorney Norman Smith, who represented Heggins in the case.
• May 29 for $4,710 to Wyatt Early Harris Wheeler, the High Point firm that represented Boynton in the case.
Description information for both checks was redacted.
The city also released copies of an invoice and voucher for $12,626.32 paid to PoynerSpruill, the Raleigh law firm that investigated the grievance.