East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble on Wednesday morning suspended East Ridge Court Clerk Joanne Thomas without pay for five days for "insubordination" and "public profanity".
Mr. Gobble said he came to Ms. Thomas' office just prior to the start of court Tuesday night and the start of a called East Ridge Council meeting. He said he was there to discuss the "proper administration" of the clerk's office.
He said he had to leave to go to the council meeting and told Ms. Thomas to come to his office the next morning. He said she responded, “No, you come to my office, if you
want to continue the discussion.”
Mr. Gobble said he then instructed her to report to his office the next morning. He said she followed him out in the lobby, where there was a crowd awaiting court.
He said he was advised by two officers that as he left she began cursing him and causing a public disturbance.
He sent this disciplinary letter to Ms. Thomas:
Date: September 5, 2012
To: Human Resources, Joann Thomas
From: City Manager, Tim Gobble
Re: Disciplinary Action
On September 4, 2012, I came to your office to discuss the proper administration,
operations, management and procedural matters of the ER Clerk’s Office that fall solely
under the direction and control of the city manager.
Due to my required attendance at a special called meeting of the City Council, that was to
begin in a few minutes, I instructed you to come to my office at 10:00 AM on September
5, 2012 to continue the discussion. You stated, “No, you come to my office, if you
want to continue the discussion.” At which time, I advised you that if you are not in my
office by the 10:00 AM on September 5th, you will no longer work here at 10:15 AM, on
September 5th. You then followed me into the City Hall Lobby. I advised you this was
not the appropriate place or time to continue this discussion. Be in my office at 10:00
AM the next day, as instructed. You again, this time in front of other city employees and
members of the public, told me you were not coming to my office and I was to report to
your office. I then advised you if you weren’t in my office at 10:00 AM the following
morning, you will no longer work here by 10:15 AM.
Later this same evening, it was reported to me verbally and in writing by two city police
officers, worthy of trust and confidence, that following my departure from the lobby, you
repeatedly, and in front of others, began using curse words, shouting and causing a public
You are reminded; you work for the city manager regarding administration, operations,
management and procedural matters of the ER Clerk’s Office. If, at any time, the city
manager instructs you to report to his office for a meeting, you do not refuse and instruct
him/her to come to your office instead. Doing so is insubordinate, a violation of City
policy and causes complete disruption of the chain of command and the effective,
efficient operations of the workplace, especially when this bad attitude and insubordinate
behavior is demonstrated in front of other employees and the public, as you did.
Therefore, you are suspended for three work days without pay for insubordination and
demonstrating a bad working attitude when you verbally and in front of others stated
you would not come to the city manager’s office, as instructed by your supervisor for a
Additionally, two ERPD officers, who are worthy of trust and confidence, reported to
me verbally and in writing, that when I left the lobby, you repeatedly cursed and caused
a public disturbance in front of them and others. This too is a violation of city policy
that prohibits the use of abusive language during city business and operations. The
use of abusive language toward others and your work in public areas is unprofessional
and reflects badly upon the City. It is a discourtesy to citizens and is disruptive to the
effective and efficient operations of the City workplace and its operations. Therefore, you
are suspended for two additional work days without pay.
You will begin serving this workday suspension immediately without pay and you will
return to work on September 12th at 10am. During your suspension you are not to be in
City Hall, the courtroom or any other city property, without my expressed approval.