- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Forty of the hundreds of Department of Economic Security workers fired during the tenuous tenure of the department’s now-departed director will be offered their jobs back, officials said Friday.

The workers were fired by former DES director Tim Jeffries and are among those who sought to be reinstated, the Arizona Department of Administration said.

Spokeswoman Megan Rose said the department reviewed requests from 267 fired workers from several state agencies and singled out 40 who were fired “in a manner that did not follow the best practices” of the state’s human resources division. All of the workers who will be offered their jobs back were fired from DES.

“We thoroughly reviewed each case that was sent in and measured it against best HR practices. And so in 40 of the cases, we found that best practices weren’t used and therefore we are offering to rehire those people back to state service,” Rose said.

Rose said the Department of Administration allowed fired workers to call in and email their requests to be reinstated as a convenience for those who felt they were unjustly let go.

The 40 flagged as eligible for rehires will be offered jobs over the next week and before the end of the year.

Those workers will receive their previous salaries and the same sick time they had when they were fired. They will still have to fill out an application and pass a background check. If their job no longer exists, the department will offer them a comparable position.

Jeffries fired about 500 workers, many who said they were dismissed for no reason. The firings included one employee who suffered from a chronic illness, was just months short of qualifying for full retirement benefits, and was let go without cause.

In response to the avalanche of firings, Gov. Doug Ducey stripped Jeffries of his power to terminate employees.

But the trouble continued.

The Arizona Republic reported last month that Jeffries in April had taken a state plane to Nogales and hosted a party with alcohol for employees there who had given up employment protections. Ducey launched an investigation and in November let Jeffries go.

DES is the state’s largest agency and employs more than 7,000 people.

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