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Union files suit over layoff of county employees Action violated charter, group alleges


Charging that Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden fired a union official because of her union activity and her sex, a white collar union filed a class action suit against the executive yesterday on behalf of her and 391 other workers laid off Feb. 11.

The Maryland Classified Employees Association also charged in its suit that Mr. Hayden's restructuring of county government violated the county charter and code, the union's contract and the U.S. Constitution.

It alleged that Mr. Hayden eliminated some agencies specifically provided for in the code and did not get County Council approval, which the union claims is required by the charter. The suit, in Baltimore County Circuit Court, seeks an order reversing Mr. Hayden's actions.

County attorney H. Emslie Parks promptly rejected the union's allegations and said, "We're very comfortable in the way we've proceeded."

He accused union leaders of "doing a lot of stretching" of the county charter to come up with their charges. No County Council members have charged that the cuts were made illegally. Mr. Hayden had no comment on the suit yesterday.

Mr. Parks also rejected as "simply not true" the suit's allegation that Karen Jones, first vice president of the county chapter of the union, was targeted for removal because of her union activity or her sex.

The suit charged that Ms. Jones' outspoken union activity helped prompt her removal, a violation of the union contract under which she worked and of her free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Ms. Jones, a 22-year county worker, was a right-of-way agent in the county's public works department. when were bureau was abolished and reconstituted in the Office of Law.

Two of the five right-of-way agents, both men with less than 4

years seniority, were "hired" by Mr. Parks, and kept their jobs. Ms. Jones and two others were laid off.

"We offered jobs to people we thought were best suited," Mr. Parks said yesterday. He added that Ms. Jones must exhaust her administrative remedies under the county grievance procedure before going to court for relief.

Ms. Jones began work for Baltimore County after being laid off by Eastern Stainless Steel, the company Mr. Hayden worked for then.

The suit was filed on behalf of Ms. Jones and four other laid-off county workers, but it seeks to be declared a class action suit that would include all laid-off county workers in any decision.

Mr. Hayden's action eliminated 392 employees, including the jobs of 112 members of the BCEA.

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