A former accountant manager who claims she was wrongfully fired by Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle won her appeal Wednesday night.
After more than four hours of testimony, the Lafourche Parish Civil Service Board unanimously reinstated Renita Jackson, who was fired on Jan. 16 for allegedly conducting private business on her work computer.
Parish Risk Manager Brent Abadie claimed during an investigation he found about 200 documents containing personal tax information stored on Jackson’s office computer. The information was then transferred to a flash drive before being shared to law enforcement officials, Abadie said.
Cantrelle said during testimony Jackson admitted to doing private accounting business while on the job as the parish accountant manager.
“She said she did it,” Cantrelle said. “Once you know a crime has been committed, I had no choice but to let her go. Those are huge violations.”
Jackson, who has not been charged with a crime, contended she was wrongfully fired because Cantrelle had no authority to dismiss her. She has worked for Lafourche Parish for about 18 years.
Jackson’s Baton Rouge attorney, Jill Craft, claimed her client was only notified of the allegations one hour before she was fired and wasn’t afforded the right to consult with a lawyer.
After hearing testimony from multiple witnesses, board members met behind closed doors before announcing their verdict in favor of Jackson, claiming Cantrelle did not exercise proper procedure when he dismissed Jackson.
Board Chairman Marcel Lovelance said no determination has been made on the substance of the allegations against Jackson.
Following the board’s ruling, dozens of audience members erupted into applause. Friends and family members embraced Jackson, who said she was anxious to get back to work.
“I’m pleased with the board’s decision,” Jackson said.
Attorneys for Cantrelle said they will evaluate the board’s decision before determining their next steps.
--Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 857-2202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@DanVCopp.