CHIPLEY — County Human Resources Director Heather Finch was fired on Tuesday, according to County Manager Steve Joyner.
“It was an unfortunate situation,” Joyner said on Thursday. He would not state the reason for the firing. Joyner suggested the media request the information under the state Sunshine Law.
"I was shocked to be terminated without any notice, and for nor legitimate reason, as Director of Human Resources for Washington County, a position I have held with pride and honor during the last six years under four different county administrators,” Finch said. “This action blindsided me, and could not occur at a more difficult time. I am seven and a half months pregnant and my husband is fighting Stage 4 Cancer.”
Finch said the firing was in retaliation for her complaining about corruption and harassment in the county government.
“In spite of working in a hostile environment where the members of leadership abuse power daily, I served the people of Washington County with integrity and honesty, and I will continue to do everything I can to bring fairness and equal treatment for all county employees," Finch said.
The topic of Finch’s termination did not come up at Thursday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting, but Joyner discussed the situation following the meeting.
Joyner said the county was looking into whether or not to replace Finch, and he said that in the interim, county employees Stacy Webb and Carol Parks would be sharing the human resources director’s duties.
At the Board of County Commissioners workshop on Feb. 20, County Commissioner Joel Pate presented fellow commissioners with a computer printout and said he would like the matter taken care of by the county manager. Pate said the controversy involved the county’s interviewing process.
Copies of the documents provided to the commissioners were not provided to the media.
After reviewing the documents, Commission Chairman Alan Bush said that the problem seemed to have less to do with the county’s interviewing process than the improper usage by county employees of social media.
Finch was never mentioned by name as being involved in the situation the commissioners were discussing, however, it was confirmed following the meeting that the human resources director was involved.
Bush said the county does not have a social media policy in place for its employees, and he asked that the commissioners let the county manager deal with the county’s personnel problems.