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Iowa adds 67 people to state's do-not-rehire list despite concerns about the practice

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa continued to add people to its do-not-rehire list over the past year despite the concerns raised by some representatives of public employees and at least one lawmaker.

The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/1JRMaa1 ) public documents show 67 people have been added to the list that now includes 943 people ineligible to work in state government.

Critics say the process of adding people to the list can be arbitrary and inconsistent.

"I really think we're getting ourselves set up for a lawsuit," said state Sen. Janet Petersen. The Democrat from Des Moines tried unsuccessfully to impose limits on the no-hire list in the legislature.

But state officials defend the list as a way to keep problematic employees off of Iowa's payroll. And the Department of Administrative Services says anyone on the list can request their status be reviewed.

"It's important for DAS to protect taxpayers' interest and not pass around employees that have a known malfeasance from one agency to another," said Caleb Hunter, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.

Since the state first released the list in April 2014, there have been government oversight hearings and a lawsuit on behalf of three former workers.

The list includes workers who were disqualified from state government jobs because they were fired or resigned.

One of the attorneys who handled that initial worker lawsuit, Tom Duff, said some people on the do-not-hire list are there for relatively minor reasons such as tardiness that shouldn't warrant a lifetime ban.

"It's draconian that an innocuous workplace issue could follow you forever in every job in the state," Duff said. "And there also ought to be some uniformity about what sort of offense gets you put on the list."

Former corrections officer Sarah Zaruba of Newton said she left her job voluntarily after her husband's death in February, but she was added to the don't-rehire list.

Zaruba said it's unfair that she now has to appeal to get her name removed from the list after 17 years of service.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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