Texas Attorney General Fires Back on Employee Resignation Issues

Ken Paxton Texas Attorney General
AP File Photo/Susan Walsh

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter was received from the Office of the Texas Attorney General (OAG) addressing the issues related to two employee resignations and questions raised by some media outlets. The letter was written and submitted by the OAG Human Resources Director, John M. Poole.

As the Director of Human Resources for the Office of the Attorney General of Texas for the past nine years, I lead a department that provides human resources support to over 4000 employees throughout the State of Texas and strategic guidance and consultation to the Attorney General and the agency’s executive administration.

Over the past few weeks, numerous stories have been written regarding the agency’s handling of the resignations of two senior staffers: Chip Roy, the former First Assistant Attorney General, and Allison Castle, the former Director of Communications. Certain journalists have focused on the terms of these departures and suggested wrongdoing. As the human resources director for the agency, and on behalf of its dedicated and hard-working employees, I feel obligated to clarify the record.

In early March, Mr. Roy and Ms. Castle chose to resign their positions with the agency. General Paxton was then briefed in person by experienced human resources professionals on the relevant agency practices regarding the discontinuation of employment and paid leave. Specifically, he was informed of the agency’s long-standing practice of analyzing employment separations on a case-by-case basis and recommending paid leave when warranted.

General Paxton chose to accept this option and made the decision to grant Mr. Roy and Ms. Castle 64 days of paid leave. He did so under Texas Government Code 661.902(b), which authorizes the granting of paid leave to an employee for “good cause.” On March 10, Mr. Roy and Ms. Castle formally submitted their resignation letters, acknowledging that they were to receive paid leave. In those letters, they referred to this leave as “administrative leave” ─ a phrase commonly used by employees and employers to identify leave that is given under these circumstances.

Confusingly, however, there is another, completely different section of the Texas Government Code entitled “Administrative Leave with Pay,” which authorizes state agencies to award a limited number of paid leave hours to employees. Mr. Roy and Ms. Castle’s casual use of the term “administrative leave” seems to have misled individuals into thinking that they received leave pursuant to this completely different section of the Government Code.

But that is not true. Mr. Roy and Ms. Castle were granted leave pursuant to 661.902(b), which authorizes the agency to grant leave for “good cause.”

Attorney General Paxton acted in a compassionate, legal, and ethical manner when he granted paid leave to two staffers who had worked tirelessly for the State of Texas. I stand by his decision.

John M. Poole, Director of Human Resources, Office of the Attorney General


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