Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Denice Graham, the Utah Department of Transportation employee who was wrongfully fired for allegedly leaking information, will start a new state job Monday and have her legal fees covered. The development resolves the case that has been a continuing source of controversy for the administartion.
State finally resolves wrongful firing of UDOT employee
Dispute » Denice Graham will get a new state job and legal fees.
First Published May 11 2012 08:13 pm • Last Updated May 12 2012 10:23 am

Denice Graham starts a new state job Monday with a fresh slate.

Friday, the state gave her a check to cover $57,600 in legal fees she racked up fighting her wrongful firing last year from the Utah Department of Transportation for allegedly leaking information about the Interstate 15 reconstruction project.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

That check and a new position in the Department of Human Resources make up the final pieces of a resolution that Graham says is fair.

"I feel satisfied that we reached an agreement to make me whole," Graham told The Salt Lake Tribune. "I’m looking forward to working in the HR department for the state. It will be a new experience."

Last month, Graham was given a $43,515.84 check for a year in back pay minus taxes, had her previously accrued leave reinstated and was given back a job at UDOT — though not the one handling labor and civil rights issues from which she had been fired.

In fact, she said she had been stuck in an "entry-level" position that didn’t match her experience or skills.

On Friday, Graham said she was happy with the outcome.

"I felt strongly that I had been vindicated and UDOT needed to do the right thing, and I am happy that they did."

Jeff Herring, the human resources director who helped negotiate the final package, said it worked out well.

"Also, not part of the settlement, but there was a need in my office for some skills that Denice has. She has accepted a position in my department as an HR analyst."

story continues below
story continues below

Graham was fired at the direction of UDOT Director John Njord, who accused her of leaking information on the $1.1 billion I-15 contract in the wake of controversy over a $13 million payment to a losing bidder.

But a Career Service Review officer ruled in February that Graham hadn’t released confidential information, called the firing an "abuse of discretion" and ordered her reinstated.

UDOT did that, but in a job that Graham complained was a big demotion. The case’s handling drew more criticism when it was revealed that Njord had attempted to get her to sign a statement that she would urge the state Democratic Party not to use her termination to score political points against the administration of Republican Gov. Gary Herbert.

There also had been a series of disputes over back pay and attorneys fees — all now resolved.

"The message that I tried to get out all along has been for people to do the right thing, if they find themselves in this position," Graham said. "I am glad management did the right thing."

The group Alliance For A Better Utah, which had been among the biggest critics in the case, hailed Friday’s development and commended the state for "finally doing the right thing."

Still, the Democratic-leaning group repeated its call for an independent investigation "to restore the public trust."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.