MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. - A Marshall County employee is back in the office, after a three-week suspension for using a racial slur on the job. It started with a note that Marshall County Circuit Clerk, Cheryl Pierce, received back in May.
The noted explained an incident concerning a conversation between one of her aides and another worker that took place at the Albertville Courthouse. "I don't know exactly what the conversation was but in the conversation very quietly, she made a racial slur," said Pierce.
Pierce says she immediately took action, against her part-time employee, whose name they won't release publicly. "I called our legal staff at administrative office of courts. I'm an elected official, so I'm over my employees. So they left it up to me as to what I thought."
The final decision was to suspend this employee for three weeks with no pay, in addition to writing an essay on what she learned from the incident. That employee recently returned to work. "I think everybody deserves a second chance," said Pierce. "She was punished. She had no pay. That's just my policy."
Pierce says she did what she thought was right, but there are some local officials who don't agree with her decision. "The circuit clerks says she believes in zero tolerance but writing an essay and a fake apology isn't zero tolerance," said Sanchez Watkins of Guntersville City Council.
Councilman Watkins says the employee should've been terminated immediately. "We don't want to see that happening here anymore. She says she was given a second chance, but why would you give someone a second chance to show hatred."
Pierce said she had a conversation with Watkins and she agrees that what the employee said isn't tolerable behavior. But she also says she's not going to go back and change the punishment. "If I had any inkling it would happen again, she wouldn't be here," said Pierce. "If it does happen again, she won't be here. Any of my employees, they know."
Pierce insists that her employee learned her lesson, but Watkins insists that the fight to termination isn't over.