The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 19, 2013

Records detail Stephens' exit as city worker

(Continued)

ENID, Okla. — Stephens: ‘I resigned from the city’

When contacted by the News & Eagle concerning his employment with the city, Stephens said he had worked for 23 years in the landfill and solid-waste department, and that he resigned from the city and currently is pursing a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Northwestern Oklahoma State University-Enid.

When asked about the city records of his termination, Stephens replied “I resigned from the city. That’s all I can comment on my leaving the city.”

Stephens later provided the News & Eagle with a signed letter of resignation dated Dec. 13, 2012. Stephens wrote in the letter “Effective (Aug. 12, 2012) I resign from my employment with the city of Enid.”

Stephens again declined to comment on the terms of his separation from employment with the city.

“I entered into an agreement that allowed me to resign, and I am bound by that agreement that I can’t disclose the terms under which I resigned,” Stephens said.

Records provided by the city pursuant to a News & Eagle records request show Stephens filed a grievance against the city through the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1136.

Stephens, AFSCME and the city entered into arbitration in the grievance. According to the agreement, the arbitration was settled on Dec. 11, 2012, with the city paying a settlement of $19,801.60.

According to the settlement agreement, the city settled with the payment “to avoid expenditures of time and money.”

The settlement terms included AFSCME withdrawing its grievance against the city, and forfeit of any future claims by Stephens against the city related to his separation.

Settlement terms also permitted Stephens to submit a resignation letter, retroactive to his separation date, and the city agreed to “substitute the letter of resignation for the discharge letter in Stephens’ personnel file.”

The terms did not include an admission of wrongdoing on the part of Stephens or the city, but did expressly prohibit Stephens and AFSCME from talking about the settlement.

A confidentiality clause in the settlement prohibits Stephens, his spouse and attorneys and AFSCME from disclosing the terms of the grievance settlement. The settlement specifies a penalty of $1,980 as a “presumptively reasonable amount for breach of this confidentiality clause.”

Stephens said he is sticking to the confidentiality clause, but added his desire to run for city commission is not related to his release from city employment.

“I always said when I retired from the city of Enid I would run for city council,” Stephens said. “I’m not running because they got rid of me, period. I’m running because I want to run.”

Stephens is running against Enid attorney Ben Ezzell for the Ward 3 seat on the Enid City Commission. The race will be decided in the city election on Feb. 12.

Go to http://enidnews.com to view related documents.

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