Former Mount Pleasant Payroll Coordinator Jillian Schumacher Monday in public comments before the village board accused Village Administrator Kurt Wahlen of firing her for being a whistleblower.
Schumacher said she was fired unfairly and without any prior warning because she questioned financial processes that didn’t align with the personnel handbook or standard practices.
“In short, I believe I was terminated for being a whistleblower and not blindly following policies I felt were unprofessional,” she continued.
Specifically, Schumacher claims Wahlen fired her just four months after she had a positive review during which she was awarded another week of vacation and told she was on track to receive a raise. Schumacher worked for Mount Pleasant for 13 months.
“In January of 2016 my vacation was increased to 3 weeks and I was on schedule for a raise. I had received no verbal or written warnings and no suspensions as outlined in the discipline section of the personnel manual. I had every reason to believe I was a competent and valued employee,” her comments to trustees read.
But, last month, Schumacher told the board that Wahlen called her into his office and asked if she wanted to quit or be terminated. She elected termination and said she believes Wahlen fired her because:
- Pay for staff is arbitrary negotiated by the Village Administrator on a personal basis rather than as a uniform employee policy. Pay for similar positions vary without regard to experience or job description.
- Raises are arbitrarily awarded or withheld and do not follow village personnel handbook guidelines.
- Some salaried staff are allotted comp. time while others are not. The result is that some staff are paid when absent and others have to use vacation time.
- Village fees were waived by staff for certain residents but charged to others – without oversight or board approval.
- Fees and bills were not routinely deposited and at times were allowed to collect in a box if staff was absent. In early 2016, during property tax season, as much as $2 million dollars or more sat in the village office without deposit – vulnerable to fraud or neglect.
- Two village employees – Jo Gleason and Dianne Flannery – were paid well over the $8.57/hour wage for poll workers on election day; Gleason was allotted her regular rate of nearly $18/hour.
When she brought her concerns to Wahlen, Schumacher said he threatened to “dock” her pay. A few weeks later, he fired her.
Board members were clearly surprised by Schumacher’s comments. After the meeting, Village President Jerry Garski said he takes the allegations seriously.
“This was surprising … it’s the first we’ve heard of these issues, and we will look into them,” he said after the board meeting.
He did not offer any additional comment.
Wahlen was not at the meeting because he is on vacation this week. Racine County Eye did send him an email to his village email address and will update this story if we reach him for comment. His contract with the village expired on May 13, and negotiations for a new one have not begun, according to sources close to the village.
To listen to Schumacher’s comments, click the link below: