Dismissed labor department worker getting job back

A state employee is getting her job back several months after her dismissal during a shakeup at the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Cindy Guthrie, a longtime employee at the department’s Division of Employment Security, had filed an administrative legal challenge to her February dismissal as chief of the Employer Contributions Section, which assigns tax rates paid by companies to fund unemployment benefits.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Guthrie has been notified that she can return to work. That

notification came as depositions were being taken in Guthrie’s case against Larry Rebman, the former department director. Guthrie’s lawsuit said Rebman overstepped his authority and retaliated against workers when they would not accept orders that contradicted state laws or policies.

“There was no substantive evidence to back up Larry Rebman’s discharge of her,” Guthrie’s attorney, Roger Brown, told the newspaper. “There was no evidence of misconduct, and there was substantial and overwhelming evidence that for the good of the service she be reinstated.”

Gov. Jay Nixon announced in March that Rebman was leaving his post to become an administrative law judge in Kansas City.

Rebman told the Associated Press in March that he did not leave the department because of any personnel complaint. Rather, he said, the administrative hearing job allowed him to return closer to his family in Kansas City.

Gracia Backer also was let go as director of the Division of Employment Security around that same time. Guthrie had said in March that Backer had been defending employees “who were doing things right.”

Backer gave a deposition in Guthrie’s case on July 10, and another Division of Employment Security employee testified July 12. Guthrie’s attorney cited their remarks as helping Guthrie get her job back.

Tom Bastian, the acting communications director for the department, confirmed that Guthrie is returning to work but declined to comment further.

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