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‘Phantom employee’?

Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013

What better way to start our new Rumor Has It feature than with a “phantom employee”? Last week’s Observer had an education blog that suggested a Providence High teacher was being paid his salary, even though he had not been at school for a decade. The reporter was somewhat hindered by having access only to the salary database and we were hindered by not being able to say much until we spoke with the employee and gained his permission to share additional information. He was very helpful and we appreciate his willingness to let us discuss his situation publicly.

So that’s the rumor – phantom employees. Here are the facts: The salary database we provide for the Observer lists CMS employees who are being paid as well as those who are on approved, unpaid leave. Those on leave – as the teacher in question is – are still considered employees even if they are not being paid. In fact, the teacher in question has not been paid by CMS since going on leave in 2003. The position remains in the database only because he is classified as on leave.

This is a good example of how rumors can start: One person has some information that can’t legally be shared, another person has some information but no one has the full story. We hope that Rumor Has It will be able to close that gap by providing the full story.

It’s probably also a good opportunity to remind our employees that we observe all state laws regarding employment, employee confidentiality and compensation, and other benefits. In this case, we remained silent about details while we spoke with the teacher and got his permission to share more information. We take our responsibility to our employees very seriously! But we’re also glad to have an opportunity to clear up the myth of the “phantom employee.”