He said his appearance at the meeting was pre-approved by his supervisor, but when the Press-Republican covered the meeting and quoted him, Fayette got another certified letter, dated Jan. 7, telling him he’d been told not to speak to the press.
This time, the letter was from DOT Employee Relations Director Raymond LaMarco.
“You are hereby suspended effective immediately for acts of insubordination and failure to comply with settlement terms previously agreed upon and in lieu of disciplinary termination charges,” LaMarco wrote. “You shall remain suspended until your official resignation date.”
Fayette then had to use his accumulated vacation time, which he’d plan to cash in when he left, so his health insurance and other benefits would continue.
“This was a witch hunt for nothing,” he said. “I was forced to retire well before I wanted to. It’s so far over the top it’s not funny.”
In response to a Press-Republican call, DOT spokeswoman Carol Breen said she could not discuss Fayette’s situation.
“We don’t comment on personnel issues.”
SAYS OTHERS FEARFUL
Fayette said the whole situation was a nightmare for him.
“I’ve had a whole lot of sleepless nights. I was just doing my job. I don’t know why they singled me out.”
His case is unusual, Fayette said, because DOT management-level employees often talk to the press and nothing happens to them.
“To my knowledge, no one has been charged with official misconduct for speaking to the media. I have copies of numerous newspaper articles in which DOT personnel from around the state have been quoted in newspapers. None that I know of have been charged with anything.”
He said he has since heard from some of his colleagues that they are also wary of irritating DOT leadership and ending up like Fayette.