The Anne Arundel official responsible for guarding county employees' rights has been accused by his former secretary of retaliation after she complained to him about his alleged close relationship with another female employee.
Jacquelyn Edelen-Dyer, 51, claims that county Personnel Officer Randall J. Schultz punished her in May by making verbal threats and banishing her for about two months to a job without any purpose - essentially sorting job applications into piles - after she requested to move to a different department.
"He verbally threatened me w/possible termination & a lawsuit for slander," Edelen-Dyer wrote in a formal grievance filed June 19. "I was asked to turn in all keys, etc. and have since then been placed in an office (without) a computer since I am considered a security risk by him. I have no assigned duties."
Only after she filed a grievance, she said, was she moved to a clerical position in a different department. The county has elected to take the dispute to arbitration. No hearing date has been set.
Schultz, whose career in personnel and labor relations began more than 25 years ago, said confidentiality laws prevent him from commenting on the matter.
"Obviously there is a lot I would like to say, but I'm bound by law to keep it in confidence," he said last night. Asked whether he had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, he replied, "Of course not."
Edelen-Dyer, a 15-year county employee, complains in her grievance about "retaliation after requesting transfer." In an interview, she said she believes her conversations with Schultz about his alleged close relationship prompted his actions toward her.
"It was retaliation," she said yesterday in the Annapolis office of her lawyer, Paul V. Bennett.
She criticized County Executive Janet S. Owens for hiring Schultz, who came to Arundel after eight years as Harford County's director of human resources. "If she were sincere about wanting to help employees and have a more responsive department ... it was a golden opportunity missed," Edelen-Dyer said.
Owens, reached in Los Angeles where she is attending the Democratic National Convention, defended Schultz's job performance and said she was not aware of Edelen-Dyer's grievance.
County spokesman Andrew C. Carpenter said: "By leaking privileged information you have a situation where an employee has basically created a free shot against a department head. In this case that department head, Mr. Schultz, is barred by county personnel law from publicly defending himself."
Edelen-Dyer said she would like to return to the Office of Personnel and counsel retiring employees about their benefits. She also wants the county to give her leave time to compensate for the "stress caused by the embarrassment and humiliation I've been unjustly subjected to."
Edelen-Dyer had been administrative secretary for various county personnel officers for close to a decade when Schultz was hired. Almost immediately, she said, he began spending considerable amounts of time with a low-ranking employee in the office.
Edelen-Dyer said she approached Schultz early last year and told him that her co-workers were asking why he spent so much time with the woman. She said she was trying to be "diplomatic."
"He said to me he would be friends with `whoever I want to be friends with,'" she said.
Schultz, Edelen-Dyer said, frequently made "inappropriate" comments about women in front of her and other employees. "He said it should be in the dress policy that [slender female county employees] would wear short shorts, low tops and 3-inch heels," she said.
Asked if he said that or similar comments around other employees, Schultz said: "I'm not even going to dignify that."
By early this year, Edelen-Dyer said, she wanted a transfer. But she was not given interviews for several positions she applied for, so in May she sent an e-mail message to Jerome Klasmeier, the county's chief administrative officer, to ask for help.
On May 11, Klasmeier told her he would be glad to help, she said. (Klasmeier could not be reached for comment last night). But moments later she said she was called into Schultz's office and found Schultz sitting with William D. Evans Jr., a county lawyer."[Schultz] just said to me I was relieved of all duties," she said. "I was being placed on administrative leave, that he may possibly terminate me and that he may well sue me for personal libel against him."
About three weeks ago, she began working at the Central Services Department, where she says her bosses and colleagues treat her well.