Fired SAO launches legal action against Town of Fort Smith

Fired SAO launches legal action against Town of Fort Smith
Former SAO Brenda Black says town council violated its bylaws when it fired her.File photo.

Brenda Black, the recently fired Town of Fort Smith Senior Administrative Officer (SAO), has filed an official grievance that outlines her eligibility for additional compensation - pointing out how her termination by town council violated its own laws, procedures and policies - and asks for a public hearing on the matter.

In the grievance document, hand delivered to the Town of Fort Smith on June 18, Black presents the case that she is owed compensation for 24 sick days, moving expenses,  phone bills accrued on her personal phone while working, deductions from her pay that she claims were legitimate expenses and the equivalent of a salary increase that she says was due her.

The grievance offers up seven articles justifying the demands, pointing out various contraventions of the town’s own rules, including: “I was not provided with notice of dismissal, reasons for dismissal or the opportunity to respond or defend myself…”

The grievance also points out that under its own bylaw, Fort Smith town council is required to convene an official meeting of council to perform such actions as the termination of a senior manager, but that was never done. The grievance notice points this out saying: “Furthermore, the decision is also invalid because the procedure required to hold a regular meeting of the Council under Bylaw 840, the Council Procedures by-law, was not followed.”

According to the document, resolving Black’s grievance may not be the end if she is able to seek further compensation elsewhere.

“I am filing this grievance without prejudice to any other legal remedy that may be available to me as a result of the termination of my employment,” the document concludes.

Black told The Journal she feels she worked diligently for the Town of Fort Smith and did more than what was required of the SAO position for the community. She said she has been wronged, has retained a good lawyer and intends to pursue the matter to the full extent due her.

“I worked really hard there. It’s frustrating,” she told The Journal.

Fort Smith Mayor Janie Hobart said the grievance document had been sent to the town’s lawyer and was being reviewed. She could not comment further on the matter.

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