Janesville73°

Rock County settles with two employees

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ANN MARIE AMES
November 3, 2009
— A husband and wife who work for Rock County will get $240,000 in a settlement with the county.

A federal court in Madison on Thursday dismissed Marvin and Connie Vick's case against the county when a settlement was reached.


The county will pay $150,000, Corporation Counsel Jeff Kuglitsch said. Insurance will cover the rest, he said.


According to court documents, Marvin Vike worked as a truck driver for the county from 2001 until he was laid off in 2006.


In 2004, Vike was injured by a crank handle while fastening a tarp on his truck. His wrist was injured permanently, and he became qualified as an individual with a disability, according to court documents.


But Vike's job called for a minimal amount of material handling or lifting. Vike was able to get help from his coworkers when lifting or twisting was necessary, according to the documents.


In March 2006, Vike's wife, Connie, took a medical leave to get heart surgery. She was hospitalized again in April and May. Connie's doctor told her not to work until October, but her health insurance was due to expire in July when her 12 weeks of family medical leave were used up.


In June, Connie Vike talked to a worker in the Rock County Human Resources Department. She was told it would be "no problem" to switch insurance coverage to her husband's name, who also worked for the county. She applied for an extension of her medical leave, according to court documents.


The day her extension was to start and her insurance was to be switched to her husband's name, Connie Vike met with John Becker, former human resources director. She was told her husband was going to be laid off.


That was a surprise to Marvin and Connie Vike, according to court documents, because Vike had been performing his job functions for two years with some accommodation.


When asked, Becker told Connie Vike she could use vacation and sick leave as well as sick time donated by other county employees to cover her doctor-ordered time off.


When Connie told Becker it wasn't enough time, he "just shrugged his shoulders and said that she would have to come back to work then," according to the documents.


Connie Vike returned in August to work as a county child support reimbursement specialist to keep her health insurance coverage.


In July, Marvin Vike filed a claim of disability discrimination with the state. The claim alleged Marvin was laid off because of his association with his wife.


He also filed a grievance with the union.


In May 2007, an arbitrator ruled the county violated the union contract when it laid off Marvin Vike. The arbitrator ordered the county to reinstate Marvin Vike and make up for his lost wages and benefits.


The county directed Marvin Vike to do filing work at the Rock County Job Center, withheld a $5,800 retroactive wage increase and denied him overtime pay for his work at the job center, according to court documents.


The county denied many of the statements of the Vikes' attorneys, including the fact that Connie Vike was "forced" back to work or that the county withheld any of Marvin Vike's wages.


According to court documents, a jury found that Marvin Vike was injured enough that it impaired his work but he still was qualified to do his job. The jury found that Marvin Vike was not given notice of his layoff or given an opportunity to contest the reasons for the layoff.


The jury found Becker, public works Director Ben Coopman and Construction Superintendent Neil Pierce failed to provide Marvin Vike due process, according to court documents.



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