Jon Hardy says he was hired to address problems among maintenance employees on McNeil Island, but when he started to fix things, he was fired, a new lawsuit claims.

Share story

Jon Hardy knew what to expect at his new job as a state supervisor of maintenance workers on McNeil Island.

He’d been hired to address problems with work performance, drug and alcohol abuse, and “a general attitude of laziness, complacency, and inactivity,” according to his suit against the state.

But when he started to fix things, he was fired, he alleges in the wrongful-termination suit, filed April 5 in Pierce County Superior Court.

The state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which oversaw Hardy’s division, doesn’t comment on pending litigation, a representative said.

Most Read Local Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, gives this account:

He left a job he held for 30 years in Arizona to take the position as a supervisor with Washington’s Consolidated Maintenance Operations division on McNeil Island. He started Jan. 11, 2016.

DSHS says the division has 21 employees and does maintenance work across McNeil. That includes for the Special Commitment Center, which houses the state’s sexually violent predators.

Hardy said he was told about problems with the maintenance unit before he accepted the job, and that he found them when he started.

“ … employees were taking advantage of the system and receiving taxpayer funds for little or no work,” according to the suit.

“He learned that his bus drivers had obvious and severe problems with attendance and substance abuse, often on the job. His construction and maintenance staff members were not only consistently failing to complete any work, but they were taking extremely long meal breaks, often as long as 2-3 hours …”

Work orders several years old hadn’t been fulfilled, and some employees weren’t honest about their work hours, according to Hardy.

In addition, he said, attendance records were falsified, and in some cases workers were paid for time they weren’t on McNeil Island.

Hardy started addressing the problems, and was praised by upper managers, the suit states. But workers complained to Hardy’s boss. The supervisor met with Hardy on April 14, 2016, and they discussed the workers’ perceptions of Hardy. They also set Hardy’s goals for going forward.

The next day he was fired.

“His work,” the suit alleges, “was initially rewarded with excellent reviews, until the extent of the employee fraud began becoming increasingly clear and higher-level employees at McNeil Island began to realize that his work in ending the fraudulent activities, and doing what he had been requested to do, was disturbing an ongoing boondoggle and jeopardizing the McNeil Island workers and supervisors’ ability to receive taxpayer funds for doing little to no work.”