2 state workers reinstated in dispute over meals on the road

Michigan
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Two state of Michigan employees who were fired over meal reimbursements were reinstated by a hearing officer who found no trace of fraud and said they were given the boot over “petty amounts.”

Laura Kondel and Lisa McGlashen were examiners at the Department of Insurance and Financial Services. They often traveled for work and could be reimbursed for meals.

They sometimes used the same receipts for reimbursement that were used by other employees. The lack of itemizing likely produced honest mistakes, said Matthew Wyman, a Civil Service Commission hearing officer.

Neither employee exceeded daily meal allowances of $36, he said.

Wyman found the most that Kondel could have received in excess reimbursements was $52 out of more than 500 receipts over five years, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“It is unreasonable to conclude that Kondel would risk her career for want of $50,” Wyman said.

“The scarcity of this happening — and the petty amounts at issue — undermine DIFS’s evidence and argument that overpayment was caused by an intentional act of fraud,” he wrote.

As for McGlashen, the most she could have been overpaid was $25, said Wyman, who ordered both women reinstated with back pay and other benefits.

The financial services department declined to comment.

“It’s really kind of crazy,” said Jeffrey Foldie, Kondel’s attorney. “The people that went after them are supposed to be expert fraud investigators.”

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