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HR blunder of the month: Money for nothing

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Bored at workFew companies these days can afford unproductive employees. What would happen if HR found an employee who sat in his office all day doing nothing and got paid a full-time salary?

For starters, the person might be given something to do, or the position might be eliminated.

But that’s not the case for Randall Hinton, an employee of New York state’s government.

He sits at a desk doing little else for eight hours a day and is paid $93,803.

Hinton, a Native American, says he’s being discriminated against because of his national origin and retaliated against for having sued the state years ago. He’s filed a lawsuit against the state.

His job has been director of investigations for the state Insurance Fund since February 2002. However, he claims he hasn’t investigated anything or directed any other employees’ investigations because his superiors are blackballing him.

Hinton sued Gov. George Pataki’s administration 10 years ago, alleging discrimination, according to the Times Union. At the time, he was chief of investigations at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and refused to leave his post to make room for a Republican appointee.

An official claims friction developed between Hinton and the DEC because he wanted to go to the police academy to become a sworn DEC officer, but hadn’t taken required civil service tests.

As part of a settlement, Hinton was guaranteed state employment as a director of investigations. He was moved from DEC to the Insurance Fund.

No substance

Hinton claims he hasn’t been given meaningful work because some leftover members of Pataki’s team still control the Insurance Fund in Democratic Gov. David Paterson’s administration. His former boss says those in charge told him not to let Hinton handle anything of substance.

“He claims he hasn’t investigated anything or directed any other employees’ investigations because his superiors are blackballing him.”

Hinton was assigned to supervise a few customer service representatives. He complained that the task wasn’t appropriate for the director of investigations. Those employees were regrouped, and now Hinton’s only official duty is to sign one person’s time sheet every two weeks.

The Insurance Fund did recently offer Hinton oversight of private detective agencies hired by the fund. But Hinton dismissed the offer because he didn’t want to do contract assurance and work for an administrator who was in a entry-level management post.

The Times Union reports some of his former colleagues say Hinton was obsessed with becoming a cop. Hinton says he attempted to become an environmental conservation officer because that would allow him to retire to his tribe as a law enforcer.

If Hinton has been sitting around for seven years now without much to do, what caused him to take action now?

In November he got an email from his manager that said the Insurance Fund wanted to recognise “the significant contributions and considerable role of Native Americans” and that Gov. Paterson had issued a proclamation for Native American Month.

Hinton says he wants his dignity back. For now, though, he doesn’t know how he’d get through his ‘work’ day without his iPod.

This article was first published on HR Blunders. For more stories like this, visit: www.hrblunders.com.

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