- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Charles County commissioners violated the terms of County Administrator Rebecca Bridgett’s employment contract in the way that they handled her dismissal Tuesday, her attorney said Thursday.
Bridgett has hired former county attorney Roger Fink to represent her in her negotiations with the Charles County Attorney’s Office, Fink said. Bridgett referred questions to him.
Bridgett’s contract entitles her to two weeks’ notice before termination, and one week’s “prior notice” before the public is notified, giving her a chance to resign instead, Fink said.
The latter provision was violated when county government sources acknowledged the termination within a day of the majority of the commissioners’ decision.
“Under terms of her agreement she is still the county administrator,” though she has been “taking leave” since the vote, Fink said.
The contract states Bridgett is entitled “to be notified of this decision [termination] one week prior to the formal announcement,” if fired without cause.
In negotiations with county government, Fink said he hopes to undo, to the extent possible, the damage to her reputation that news of her firing might have done.
“It’s kind of hard to undo some of the harm that’s been done when you have your name plastered all over the Internet as having been fired, but certainly I think we can amicably resolve this if both parties are willing. … Certainly Dr. Bridgett has a very distinguished career history in the county,” Fink said.
An acceptable agreement would include a public statement to which both Bridgett and county government could agree, Fink said.
Asked if Bridgett would sue if negotiations failed, Fink said he was “very optimistic that we can work something out.”
On Wednesday and Thursday, county spokeswoman Crystal Hunt said she could not say whether or not Bridgett was still employed nor could Hunt comment on the matter.
“At this time, I don’t have any information with regard to that. I cannot confirm or deny that,” Hunt said Wednesday.
Tuesday’s vote was held in a closed session, and no commissioner would say how board members voted. But two commissioners had high praise for Bridgett.
“She is one of the most amazing professionals I’ve ever had the honor and privilege of working with,” said commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D).
“In my 35 years of working in newsrooms, corporate offices, academia and county government, I have never worked with anyone as smart, organized and competent as Dr. Rebecca Bridgett. She is an example of an outstanding individual [who was] homegrown in Charles County,” said Commissioner Ken Robinson (D).
Commissioner Reuben B. Collins II (D) declined to comment Wednesday on “anything associated with Rebecca Bridgett” as “a personnel matter.”
Commissioner Debra M. Davis (D) declined to comment. Commissioner Bobby Rucci (D) did not return calls seeking comment.
Bridgett began working as county administrator Aug. 24, 2009, according to a county news release announcing her appointment, replacing current Deputy County Administrator Roy Hancock, who had been serving as acting county administrator.
Earlier, Bridgett served as acting executive director of the Social Services Administration, part of the Maryland Department of Human Resources. In 2002, she was elected to the Charles County Board of Education, where she served as chairwoman, the release states. She also held a previous job with county government as director of the Charles County Human Services Partnership.
She has a bachelor’s degree in English communication from Campbell University, a master’s degree in special education from Appalachian State University, both in North Carolina, and a doctorate of education from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.