Iberia Parish appointee sues parish government

NEW IBERIA (AP) — A battle between Iberia Parish President Errol Romero and the Parish Council over hiring and budgetary decisions has spilled over into federal court.

Romero had hired Holly Leleux-Thubron, a former reporter for The Daily Iberian newspaper, as a maintenance supervisor after the council rejected his request to create a new position for communications director. The council cut funding for the supervisor position in September.

Recently, Leleux-Thubron sued, alleging her termination was without cause. She’s seeking damages for lost wages, mental anguish and embarrassment, among other things.

Council Chairman Roger Duncan declined comment on the lawsuit.

Leleux-Thubron’s attorney, Michael Moity, said in a letter that council members cannot use their power over the budget to override Romero’s authority over the administration’s workforce and salaries.

Gary McGoffin, a lawyer representing the council in the two-year budget dispute, responded that the council was obligated to act because the position Leleux-Thubron held is funded with property tax revenue legally restricted to drainage projects.

“The council never requested nor required the termination of the plaintiff,” only that the money for her salary come from somewhere else in the budget for work she did that was not related to drainage projects, McGoffin wrote.

He added that Leleux-Thubron had “no applicable employment experience” for the maintenance position.

An audit advised parish government last year that it should find another funding source for duties not related to drainage projects, noting she was working as Romero’s spokeswoman as well.

In a response to the audit, Romero’s administration argued Leleux-Thubron’s other work for parish government was “not in lieu of her duties as a maintenance supervisor, they are in addition. Therefore time compensation for additional duties would need to be made beyond an eight-hour workday.”

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