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Upshot of Humane Society police raid still unknown: jobless claim reveals unhappy former employee

In Humane Society, Marion on March 30, 2008 at 12:54 am

The details on last week’s evening-time police raid at the Cedar Valley Humane Society’s animal shelter at 7411 Mount Vernon Rd. east of Cedar Rapids are yet to be told.

 The Marion Police Department says it seized billing records to see if the shelter has billed its customers, which include Linn County and several cities in the county, too much.

A Linn County judge now has sealed the court-approved search warrant used in the raid, which likely spells out who and what prompted the police to turn up at a place that cares for 3,000 dogs and cats a year.

What is known is what Harry Daugherty, Marion police chief, has said: His department got a call about the shelter about six weeks ago from an unnamed person.

Among what is known, too, is that two former shelter employees, Joy Jager and Sarah Young, both have filed lawsuits against the shelter in the last couple months. Both are seeking compensation they say is due them, says Wilford Stone, a Cedar Rapids attorney and Humane Society Board member who is representing the Humane Society.

Another  little window into the goings-on at the shelter is revealed in a ruling by the Iowa Employment Appeal Board in January.

In the ruling, the employment board ruled by a vote of 2-1 that former shelter employee Joy Jager, of Ryan, Iowa, was not entitled to jobless benefits from the shelter. The board majority ruled that Jager quit her job as a full-time receptionist at the shelter on Sept. 26 after working at the shelter two years. The board majority said she had not been entitled to jobless benefits, and ordered her to return $1,676 in benefits she had received.

An administrative law judge earlier had reached the same conclusion.

In the ruling of Judge Devon Lewis last November, she states:

Jager was upset at work on Sept. 26, 2007, and announced to shelter volunteer and board member Doug Fuller that she was going to resign. Jager was upset that the shelter’s co-directors, Sandy LeBaw and Susan Manson, were away attending a conference when Jager thought one should have stayed behind at the shelter. Jager expressed other complaints about management in the few months preceding that and had twice written resignation letters.

Fuller urged Jager to wait until the two co-directors returned so she could iron out differences with them. About 15 minutes later, LaBaw called and told Fuller to accept Jager’s resignation and to escort her from the shelter. LaBaw also called Jager herself to tell her to turn in her keys.

Judge Lewis concluded that Jager voluntarily quit without good cause attributable to the employer and was not discharged.

“The issue in this case of whether claimant (Jager) quit or was fired is a matter of credibility. Since claimant had twice before submitted resignations and had never been advised her job was in jeopardy but had been asked repeatedly to stay, employer’s version of the events is more reliable,” the judge wrote.

The judge continued: “Claimant’s dissatisfaction that both supervisors were absent at one time and her dislike of various management decisions were not good cause reasons attributable to the employer for leaving. Benefits are denied.”

Jager appealed to the three-member Employment Appeal Board.

In a Jan. 14, 2008, ruling, Appeal Board members Elizabeth Seiser and Mary Ann Spicer agreed with the administrative law judge while member John Peno dissented.

Peno called the case “a close call.”

However, he said he believed Jager was only thinking of quitting, and he cites Jager’s fellow employee, Sarah Young, who testified on Jager’s behalf. Young testified that she believed Jager had been discharged.

Peno also said Jager quit for good cause if she quit. He noted that she had testified that she was concerned about shelter activities, which Jager said included sick cats being put up for adoption, incomplete medical records and short staffing.

A call to Jager was not returned.

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