Embattled Deputy County Administrator Gail Wilcox’s status with the county will likely be resolved one way or another on July 14, when SLO County supervisors meet to discuss her situation in closed session, according to County Counsel Warren Jensen.
In other words, Wilcox, who continues to collect paychecks without coming to work, and potentially could keep doing so while she’s suing SLO County and her former boss David Edge, could be fired.
Wilcox works as an at-will employee, unprotected by the civil union contracts in place for other county workers. Alternatively, the county could propose some sort of settlement with Wilcox.
Wilcox has collected $87.34 per hour since being placed on administrative leave on May 8. As of June 13, the county had paid her $16,769 in administrative leave plus a $132 cell-phone stipend. And for now, she’ll continue to collect even in the middle of a high-profile lawsuit.
Wilcox alleged in a recent lawsuit against the county she was repeatedly harassed by former county administrator Edge. She claims Edge prodded into her sex life and would “pout” when she didn’t divulge details, according to court documents. Wilcox is also under a county investigation for undisclosed reasons.
Could Wilcox remain on administrative leave for the many months until her lawsuit against the county that is settled? Asked this question, Jensen said, “I don’t want to get into that. I can’t really talk about that without talking about things that I am not permitted to talk about at this point.”
There have been cases of employees staying on administrative leave for months at a time, such as former sheriff deputy Gary Hoving, he added.
County officials hired Oakland-based attorney Sarah Robertson for $300 per hour to look into the Wilcox/Edge situation. Robertson specializes in management of employee discipline and termination issues and harassment investigations, according to her firm’s website.
Jensen said employees are put on administrative leave because there is no basis to fire them, but the county also does not want the employee at work.
“So it puts them in sort of a holding pattern so you can do your investigation,” he added.
Edge was put on paid leave briefly before county supervisors fired him on May 19. He is still collecting a severance package for eight months, as well as other perks, for a total cost of about $239,000. Jim Grant has since stepped in as the interim county administrator. Grant is paid $96.25 per hour and is expected to stay from two to six months.