Why am I not surprised? Argh…
Washington State pays workers to sit home and do nothing
Via King5: Since 2007 at least 350 state employees have been instructed to sit home and collect a paycheck, vacation, sick days and full benefits. All they have to do is stay at home during their shift and be near the phone in case the state needs their service.
These employees are on “home assignment” because they’ve been accused of wrongdoing on the job. The idea is to keep them away from the workplace so the state can conduct a swift and fair investigation.
The KING 5 Investigators have found there’s nothing swift about some of these investigations. Through public records, KING 5 identified employees who have been on the clock, but off the job for weeks, months, and in some cases years; all at taxpayer expense.
Tammy Jo France of Tacoma worked for seven years as a residential rehabilitation counselor at the Special Commitment Center (SPCC) on McNeil Island, where the state houses the most dangerous sexually violent predators.
But for the majority of those years, France never stepped foot on McNeil Island. Instead, her workday involved activities such as making coffee in her kitchen, taking care of her cat, tending to her garden and playing the popular Facebook game, Farmville.
“That was how I worked; in my residence playing Farmville,” said France. “Am I thankful that I got paid? Yes, I am. But it was still wrong, the way I got paid, because I did nothing to earn my paycheck.”
The taxpayers of Washington state paid France to sit at home while collecting a salary of $36,500 a year plus vacation, sick pay and full benefits. The pay while sitting at home also boosted her pension. This routine went on for three years and seven months. It sounds like a version of winning the lottery, but France says the extended time at home was an insult to taxpayers and other state workers. She actually wanted to work.
“You have all kinds of state workers around this state that had to take furlough days off, without pay, because the state didn’t have money. But yet (they) had money enough to pay me to sit home for three and a half years,” said France. “How do you justify that?”
DSHS sent France home in 2007 after a convicted rapist at the SCC accused her of smuggling pornography and food into the facility for him and of secretly borrowing money from him. The Washington State Patrol and the FBI launched an investigation. France received a letter from DSHS telling her she was officially on paid leave until the investigation concluded. A portion of that letter states:
You are assigned to your home with full pay and benefits until further notice. While at home you are required to remain at your residence and reachable by telephone at all times during your normal scheduled work shift (which)…will be 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Your days off will continue to be Saturday and Sunday.
“I was a prisoner in my own home from 8 to 4 Monday through Friday,” said France. “You can only clean so much. You can only read so much. You can only watch TV so much. It’s like being in a prison.”
Read more about other workers paid to stay home while “investigations” continued here.
I am not surprised that this occurs within state government/union employees. Remember the New York school teachers that were paid to do nothing? Maybe she wouldn’t have felt like a “prisoner” if she was being paid to do “union activities” or “official time”.
What really ticks me off about this woman is that she plays the “victim”, she’s a “prisoner”, while all the time drawing a salary, benefits, AND a pension. Was she legally bound to continue working for the state so that she couldn’t be bothered to look for another job? If your private sector company laid you off for a false claim, you’d be out looking for another job to pay the bills and your attorney to sue the former employer.
If she ACTUALLy wanted to work, why not say, “screw this”, quit, and get out to find another job? She most likely could have collected unemployment as Washington State’s guidelines for receiving unemployment are very generous.
Hard to take this woman’s claim seriously that she wanted to work while she sat at home – collecting a salary, benefits, and a pension – knowing all the time that it was the wrong thing to do.