Miami County commissioners fire HR coordinator

The Miami County commissioners Tuesday fired a human resources department employee they said violated the county personnel policy manual by sending more than 100 pages of documents containing confidential health benefits claims and financial information to her personal email account.

Documents from the commission office outlined the allegations against employee Teresa Gross of Troy, who was employed by the county human resource department for several years and as an HR coordinator since July 2017.

The termination was approved 3-0 by commissioners following a closed executive session with Chris Englert of the county prosecutor’s office.

The allegations were that on Feb. 8, Gross sent eight emails with the documents to her personal email from her county email address.

“You did this without county permission, on a county-owned computer and through a county-issued email address. You then deleted these emails,” the letter outlining the allegations stated. “These emails contained health benefit claims information and financial information. You did not have permission to forward or delete these emails and no public records request was made for these documents.”

The documents included information on at least two other employees, commission President Greg Simmons said.

The emails were discovered by county Human Resources Director Angela Lewis on Feb. 20 when she accessed a county computer used by Gross to review pending files and emails, information in a notice of predisciplinary conference for Gross stated.

Lewis found all the items in the deleted items folder that been deleted and retrieved them from the recover deleted items option. This occurred on Feb. 8 before Gross left work ill, the report said.

“When asked during the investigation interview what the purpose was for sending each document from her work email to her personal email, she replied … numerous times ‘to cover my...,’” the report stated. The investigatory interview was led by Jeff Busch, director of the county Communication Center.

Gross further explained that she wanted the emails as proof she was performing her job duties.

She was accused of violating the county policy and procedural manual and the commissioners’ records retention and disposition schedule.

A predisciplinary conference for Gross was scheduled for April 9 but Gross waived that conference. She wrote on the notice waiver that the timing “does not give me time to get my attorney here or prepare.”

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