KINGMAN – Home care workers for the mentally disabled walked off their jobs Wednesday to protest the firing of an employee who had participated in the investigation of a supervisor with their employer.
One Kingman employee for Rise Inc.
was fired Wednesday in the wake of a complaint filed by workers against the supervisor, who they said treated clients poorly.
During a protest Aug.
5 outside the Rise office on Tucker Street, they demanded that the supervisor, the assistant director of the Kingman office, be disciplined or fired.
By Wednesday afternoon, all non-administrative workers at the Kingman office submitted written resignations with their time cards.
"We all left weeping," said one worker, who asked not to be identified.
"It was very hard for us to walk out."
Twenty former employees who gathered at the Golden Corral restaurant on Stockton Hill Road after resigning said they did not want to be identified for this report.
"We're afraid of the legalities, we've all been through so much," said one woman, crying.
Rise is a non-profit organization that also operates in Utah, Oregon and Washington.
Rise will bring workers from Phoenix, Yuma and Utah, said Brandy Price, a research specialist with the organization in Kingman.
They will serve clients temporarily until more Kingman workers are hired, Price added.
An investigator employed by Rise arrived in Kingman on Monday to look into a grievance against the assistant director filed by the non-administrative workers who resigned.
All the former employees who met with the investigator, Sheri Reber, were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, agreeing not talk to anybody outside of the company about the situation, they said.
Reber was not immediately available for comment.
"Nineteen people submitted written statements (about the supervisor), and still we had to talk to an investigator," said a former employee.
A conference call was made to Rise President Gerald Nebecker on Monday, the former employees said.
There was hope for a resolution after the discussion with Nebecker, they said.
The grievance against Sara Sexton was filed after workers saw her verbally abusing one of their clients, said one former employee.
Sexton has fired at least 26 people since last November, another former employee said.
A former employee who worked as a field coordinator said she was ordered by Sexton to let 11 people go.
"Three were legitimate.
Others, she'd find a reason," the coordinator said.
When Sexton was contacted Wednesday night about the resignations and grievances, she said she had "nothing to say."
"You try to show up for work with a happy face to keep your job, but it gets to the point where it's just not worth it," said a former worker.
"We were told Sara gets mad when we're not doing our jobs," said a former employee.
"We've never had a bad state inspection.
How can they say we're not doing our jobs?" he said.
"We all agreed we would not be picked off one at a time," said another former worker, regarding the fired worker and the employees' decision to resign.
"I feel badly the employees feel they need to resign," said Nebecker from the Rise main office in Provo, Utah.
"They need to do what they need to do."
Nebecker said he had full confidence in the Rise administrators in Kingman who are handling the situation.
Former workers said that all guardians of the clients serviced by Rise were notified.
"A lot of guardians were getting there as we were leaving," said a former worker.
"It was very emotional, it was too much," said another.