Commission Reaffirms That Social Worker Was Unjustly Fired

Continues to Clash With County Execs Over Liann Noble's Reinstatement

The county’s Civil Service Commission emphatically reaffirmed its conclusion that Lompoc child protective service worker Liann Noble was unconstitutionally fired last November when she used a fake name to enter a Lompoc homeless shelter to determine the quality of care provided.

The Civil Service commissioners first concluded that Noble should be reinstated after a two-month suspension and given back pay last April, but that decision was challenged in court by county executives who argued the commissioners failed to justify their decision.

In legal papers recently filed with the court, the commissioners spelled it out, saying that Noble’s due process had been violated by the superiors who fired her. While they noted Noble had an exemplary work record, and was motivated by altruistic motives, they did conclude her actions did bring discredit upon the county. However, they also concluded she could still do her job. They argued that the termination was unfair because Noble had told her supervisors-as well as law enforcement officials-of her plans to infiltrate the shelter beforehand and that none had objected.

To the extent the county suffered any bad publicity, the commissioners blamed the shelter itself, which is managed by a close political associate of supervisor Joni Gray. Had the shelter not notified the media and made a stink, the commissioners said, the county would not have received as much negative publicity as it did. It’s unusual for the commission and county executives to disagree so strenuously over a disciplinary action, and it remains uncertain whether the new information will satisfy the county’s quest for additional justification. In the meantime, Noble remains out of work.

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