An executive who led a state authority for seven years until Gov. Kim Reynolds fired him in March after hearing about sexual harassment allegations against him is not entitled to unemployment benefits, a judge ruled in a decision made public Monday.
David Jamison, who had led the Iowa Finance Authority since 2011, was fired for “job-related misconduct,” which disqualifies him from receiving unemployment insurance payments, Administrative Law Judge Nicole Merrill wrote in the ruling.
“After assessing the credibility of the witnesses who testified during the hearing, reviewing the exhibits submitted by the parties, considering the applicable factors listed above, and using her own common sense and experience, the administrative law judge finds the employer’s version of events to be credible,” Merrill wrote.
Reynolds fired Jamison March 24 after receiving a written statement from one of his employees. The woman, whose name was redacted from the complaint before it was made public, said Jamison made verbal comments about her breasts, asked about her sex life, repeatedly invited her to his hotel room and made sexual gestures and jokes.
“I am terrified about coming forward, but his behavior is escalating and has to stop,” the woman wrote. “It is not safe for women to be around him.”
The woman said Brian Crozier, the Finance Authority’s chief administrative officer, recently admonished Jamison for his behavior but Jamison replied: “You must be allergic to a paycheck.”
Jamison, 60, had been approved for unemployment in early April after Reynolds’s office declined to participate in a fact-finding interview, regularly used to verify eligibility when an employee is fired or quits.
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As a result, he received $3,185 in payments between April 8 and June 2. Merrill said he is not required to repay that because the state didn’t initially oppose his eligibility.
The Iowa Department of Administrative Services filed its notice opposing the payments in May, Iowa Public Radio reported, setting the stage for a 90-minute appeal hearing June 5 in Des Moines.
Reynolds’ then-Chief of Staff Jake Ketzner testified about meeting with two of Jamison’s female subordinates March 23, according a recording of the hearing obtained under the public records law by The Gazette.
“During his testimony Ketzner outlined several of the specific allegations made by one of the employees, such as claimant bragging about the size of his genitalia and treating employees who did not go along with his conduct adversely,” the ruling states.
The morning of March 24, Ketzner met with Reynolds and several members of her cabinet. He fired Jamison later that day.
Jamison’s attorney, Bruce Stoltze Jr, argued at the hearing Reynolds’ office fired the authority director without an investigation and without giving Jamison a chance to defend himself.
Ketzner admitted he didn’t tell Jamison about the specific allegations, and told him he didn’t believe an investigation was necessary.
Stoltze asked Ketzner during the hearing to reveal the names of the women who accused him of sexual harassment, but Merrill said the information wasn’t relevant to her decision. She also declined Stoltze’s request to compel Reynolds to attend the hearing.
Jamison also did not testify at the hearing, a fact Merrill noted in her ruling.
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“The claimant did not personally appear to rebut the allegations, nor did he provide any other witness to rebut the allegations made against him,” the ruling states.
Jamison may file a second-level appeal to the Employment Appeal Board within 15 days of the mailed decision. Stoltze did not immediately return a call Monday afternoon.
The Iowa Finance Authority is facing several investigations over the sexual harassment claims and other allegations of misspending.
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