- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - The former head of the Arizona Department of Administration who was fired for harassment and discrimination allegations has gotten vindication.

Brian McNeil, who worked for Gov. Jan Brewer, settled a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the state for $60,000. The Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/1lbaaNe ) obtained a copy of the settlement, which was reached in September, through state public records law. As part of the settlement, the state also made a declaration that no evidence of harassment or discrimination was ever found.

According to the documents, state risk manager Ray Di Ciccio also wrote a two-page recommendation letter praising McNeil. Fired in October 2014, McNeil said in his claim that he was fired without explanation. He also said he was denied the opportunity to respond to what he called unfounded allegations of racist behavior and sexual misconduct toward a female employee.

McNeil initially sought $1.46 million, including $500,000 for damage to reputation and $250,000 for emotional distress. The claim asserts McNeil had his reputation damaged by the firing, tarnishing a long and distinguished career in state government.

Now a human resources officer for the Arizona National Guard, McNeil was not immediately available for comment. The settlement’s terms prohibit him from speaking except to say “The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.” The agreement also makes it clear that the state is not admitting wrongdoing.

One of the biggest controversies highlighted by the claim centers on a $3 billion state mental health contract awarded to Mercy Maricopa.

The claim contends that Brewer was upset that Mercy Maricopa won the bid. In March 2014, according to the claim, a lobbyist said Brewer’s chief of staff, Scott Smith, authorized a legislative attempt to get the contract overturned and awarded to Magellan Health Services. However, the contract was not derailed.

The claim also contends that Brewer engaged in a “bait and switch” in regard to personnel reform initiatives, which imposed strict procedures to follow in granting raises for state employees.

McNeil ordered a rollback last year of inappropriate raises given to some staff members at the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System without his agency’s approval. The raises were first uncovered by The Arizona Republic, forcing the retirement of PSPRS Administrator Jim Hacking.

McNeil claims he discovered that other state agencies, including the governor’s office, also had given out improper raises without approval.

Brewer, a consultant at a Phoenix law firm, was traveling and could not be reached, according to her office.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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