Mayor says Port Allen to pay former worker’s vacation time

Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter disclosed Wednesday that former city employee Robin Ackerman’s accrued annual leave payment would be deposited in her bank account.

Ackerman, who resigned abruptly last month, filed a lawsuit in 18th Judicial District Court on Tuesday demanding immediate payment of $7,026 in accrued vacation time she claims the city owed to her.

Baton Rouge attorney Seth Dornier, who represents Ackerman, asserts in the lawsuit that the city should pay Ackerman for 281 hours of accrued, unused vacation time as of Aug. 23, the day she resigned.

Slaughter issued a statement Wednesday afternoon explaining the delay in paying Ackerman’s annual leave time and stating Ackerman’s annual leave payment would be deposited in her account.

“I was not aware of this lawsuit and have not been served,” Slaughter says in the statement. “Ms. Ackerman’s Friday, August 30, 2013, email concerning her annual leave was not reviewed by me until Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

“The city has an automated payroll system where the employees annual and sick leave should have been maintained on the computer and on the employees paycheck, however, this has not happened for years.

“This information is manually maintained and based on her years of service, we needed to review the information. We have submitted her annual leave payment for a direct deposit payment to her account,” Slaughter’s statement says.

Dornier said earlier Wednesday his client quit her job without giving a two-week notice because of alleged retaliatory actions Slaughter took against Ackerman after Ackerman testified as a witness against Slaughter in a separate lawsuit filed by three city councilmen.

The council members’ lawsuit identifies Ackerman as the city employee directed in January by newly seated Slaughter to hike Slaughter’s pay to $84,960 a year despite the fact that the City Council already had set the mayor’s salary at $65,000 annually in the city budget.

“Mrs. Ackerman was subpoenaed to testify in the council’s lawsuit against the mayor and she was just complying with that subpoena,” Dornier said. “Immediately after that happened, the mayor started to take actions and asked her to do things she wasn’t trained for. After 18 years on the job, things became what she thought was oppressive and she said enough is enough.”

The lawsuit says that Ackerman had submitted to the mayor an itemized tally on Aug. 27 showing the full amount she was owed in unused vacation time, according to court records.

Ackerman then notified the mayor through written correspondence on Aug. 30 that she was due immediate payment for her vacation time.

The lawsuit argues that state law requires the city to pay Ackerman upon her resignation from city employment all the paid vacation time she had accrued.

In an unrelated matter, a state District Court judge on Tuesday rescheduled to 9 a.m. Oct. 17 the bench trial of the city chief financial officer’s lawsuit against the mayor.

The trial over Slaughter’s alleged wrongful dismissal of CFO Audrey McCain had been set for Sept. 19.

According to court records, District Judge Alvin Batiste granted a continuance in the matter after holding a telephone conference on Tuesday with attorneys representing both women.