Grievance Filed Against Athens Co. Sheriff

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A detective who was moved to a different position within the Athens County Sheriff’s Office has filed a grievance against the office.

Sheriff Patrick Kelly has since denied the grievance, which called the job transfer “unreasonable and/or arbitrary and capricious,” according to the grievance obtained by The Messenger through a public records request.

The grievance was filed Thursday by James Heater, who was a detective for the Narcotics Enforcement Team. A violation of the collective bargaining agreement between the sheriff’s office and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (OPBA) was listed as the reason for the grievance.

Two articles of the collective bargaining agreement were listed as allegedly violated. The first was the additional stipend added to detective’s hourly rate, according to job descriptions, which is given “at the discretion of the Sheriff,” according to the agreement.

The other article of the agreement listed states that scheduling of shifts and days off “shall be implemented in accordance with seniority and the operational demands of the Sheriff’s Office.”

In the grievance, Heater argued that the violation to the union agreement was “the transfer of Detective Jim Heater and replacing him with a probationary employee, with no prior experience in the detective section.” Heater asked that he be placed back to his original position.

Fellow sheriff’s office employee and union representative John Deak was authorized as the representative for Heater.

In a letter dated the same day as the grievance, Kelly acknowledged receipt of the grievance “regarding your return to patrol from investigations.” He denied the grievance, but did not elaborate.

The case could be appealed and Heater’s representatives will likely file for arbitration in the matter, Deak told The Messenger on Tuesday. Deak declined to comment further, referring questions to OPBA attorney Joe Hegedus.

Attempts to reach Kelly for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Hegedus also could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.