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WVC denies firing animal shelter worker over cat killing complaints

Published September 26, 2012 11:34 am

Courts • City manager cites insubordination, other reasons for firing.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Valley City officials on Tuesday refuted claims by a former shelter worker that her firing was related to publicity over the failed euthanization of a cat at the city's animal shelter.

Karen Bird, former shelter manager, filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Monday that alleged city officials believed she leaked the story to media and her firing was retaliation. Bird, who worked at the shelter for 10 years, also alleged city officials failed to properly investigate sexual discrimination claims involving her boss.

City Manager Wayne T. Pyle said in a statement Tuesday that Bird's disciplinary history with the city pre-dated publicity about the failed attempts to kill Andrea the cat in the shelter's gas chamber.

"There were multiple reasons for this termination spanning that same period," Pyle said. "They included a history of insubordination, failure to be courteous or cooperative to fellow employees and her supervisor, and neglect or refusal to perform a duty. All policies were followed appropriately in her termination, following which her appeal of that termination was considered by a board of Karen's peers, who unanimously upheld her termination."

Pyle did not provide any details about Bird's inadequate work history.

In her civil complaint, Bird said the neglect allegation stemmed from her policy of holding animals longer than 30 days in hopes of finding homes for them. She said city officials also claimed she made other employees feel uncomfortable about using the gas chamber. Bird said her work relationship with her boss deteriorated after she returned from medical leave and got worse when she filed a theft report involving a secretary.

The insubordination charge, according to Bird's complaint, was based on failure to provide a supply list on a form designated by her boss and to be courteous to him.