Friday, August 28, 2015

Another woman sues DPS for discrimination and retaliation.

A Mississippi Department of Public Safety employee sued DPS for sex discrimination and retaliation in U.S. District Court on August 10.  Penny Corn was the Grants Director for the Office of Homeland Security at DPS.  The department is currently fighting several discrimination lawsuits and complaints.

Ms. Corn began working at the DPS in September 2007, but is not a sworn law enforcement officer.  She sought a Deputy Director position in July, 2014, but alleges Homeland Security Director Everett "Rusty" Barnes said he would not consider her for the promotion because she was not a certified law enforcement officer and thus did not qualify for the position.  Ms. Corn told him being a sworn law enforcement officer "was not a qualification for the position" but the Director said "the men in the field would not respect her" because "she was a woman".

She filed a grievance in August, 2014 with DPS Commissioner Santa Cruz.  She met with the commissioner to discuss her grievance, but Steve Beard was already promoted to the position.  Ms. Corn argued Mr. Beard did not meet the minimum qualifications for the position.  She also asked the the Commissioner to remove Mr. Barnes from his position for his acts of discrimination and Mr. Beard from his position as well since he was not qualified.

Commissioner Cruz reportedly stated in a written response to her:
While I am not going to remove Director Barnes' from his position at the MDHS, after careful review and consideration, I do think that we need to have a posted interview before a properly constructed board for the position of Deputy Director. 
As such, and in view of your request, we are going to rescind the appointment of Steve Beard as Deputy Director.  I have instructed the personnel department to begin the process of posting this position as being available for the interview.  We will conduct interviews of all qualified applicants according to the position.
 However, the plaintiff charges things did not go according to Cruz's plan.  She claimed Mr. Cruz said Mr. Barnes would not take part in the hiring of a Deputy Director, as it would be  conducted by an interview panel.  She claims Mr. Barnes chaired the interview panel and chose "the members" of the panel based upon his own discretion instead of a list of people chosen by Human Resources.

The panel hired Steve Beard for the position.  Ms. Corn alleges the retaliation then began in December, 2014.  Director Barnes revoked her right to drive her state vehicle "to and from work" while eight MDHS employees are allowed to do so and all such employees are male.  Two of the employees allowed to enjoy this privilege are also employees supervised by Ms. Corn.

Ms. Corn is represented by attorney Dennis Horn.  She seeks back pay, damages, and attorney's fees.  She also asks the court to promote her to the position of Deputy Director.   Ms. Corn's Facebook page states she left the position as MDHS Grants Director in March, 2015.  She is currently director of the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety, which is a division of the Department of Public Safety Planning, which is a division of DPS.   The case has been assigned to Judge Henry Wingate.


Anonymous said...

Hate to nitpick (not), but I'm astounded that a non-sworn, grants writer was being allowed to take a taxpayer-funded vehicle home every evening. What emergency function would she be called out for in the middle of the night?

Kingfish said...

Why should the grant-writing department have cars at all?

Anonymous said...

If the grant writing department didn't have cars how would they drive to the post office to file the grant applications so they can earn their keep? Last I knew the post office doesn't come and pick up your mail you have to deliver it to them.

Anonymous said...


Can't tell if you're funnin or honestly stupid.

Anonymous said...

More taxpayer subsidized commuting - if I see a state vehicle in my neighborhood, I'm going to ask they'll carpool me and my neighbors to work. Think about it, it's a win/win; less cars on the road and better use of those vehicles, plus, their cars are nicer than mine!

This is also a taxable fringe benefit: see IRS Publication 15-B, Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits.

Or the state could just do the smart thing and pool ALL of the vehicles and allow employees to use them as needed.

Anonymous said...

Looks like this has become normal practice at DPS. Makes you wonder what/who this guy Beard knows or if he just another ass-kissing yes man. I've heard plenty about how Barnes conducts himself and how he treats his staff - hopefully he will be held accountable - obviously he's not bright enough to follow simple directions, much less run an office.

Anonymous said...

Someone coined a phrase recently about when over the top sarcasm isn't as extreme as the actual viewpoints but I can't recall enough of the phrase to google. I spent a few minutes looking in the old McDaniel posts and didn't find it.

Anonymous said...

People...there is blatant abuse of authority here. The fact that she was driving a state vehicle is not the point. Rusty Barnes has been allowed to get away with murder and nobody can explain why. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The man should have been sent home a long time ago. The Office of MS Homeland Security has completely gone down the toilet with Barnes at the helm. It's mind boggling the crap he has done and not been held accountable for. I'm just glad someone finally had the guts to call him on something.

Anonymous said...

Sadly I'm not surprised by this, neither Barnes nor Beard seem remotely qualified for what they are doing. It does, however reveal a larger problem with DPS in that experience and ability are not considered when hiring staff or promoting employees - just look at the state auditor's report with regard to the comptroller, and the case with McMullin (sp?) and you will find a pattern of poor leadership, and even worse decision making.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:18, you're right, its a shame what's become of that office. The last homeland director was nationally respected, this guy is an embarrasment, but I bet his parents, wife and girlfriend sure are proud!

Anonymous said...

So it looks like this has the makings of a #DPS-War-on-Women, or maybe the highway patrol is just a "he-man woman haters club". Lets get Hillary to come and give a gender equality speech, and invite that trucker-lovin' trooper too!

Anonymous said...

I suppose this situation will test how strong the highway patrol consiglere over at the OSA is, and see if Rusty can keep his job.

Anonymous said...

Savus from Donna Mabus

Bull Dykes Demand Better said...

Put Mabus' Highway Patrol Chiefstress back in there and this shit will stop.

Anonymous said...

All State agencies have "Pool" cars that any employee can sign out and use for agency business but DPS uses assigned cars as a perk because this saves the assignee the cost of insurnce, fuel, maintenance. In the eyes of the IRS it should be reported as a perk and the assigned drives should be taxed on it use. Never has/never will happen.

Anonymous said...

So if you look at the state's fleet operations manual, I guess you'd see that DPS is in compliance with 4.103.01; 4.103.02; and 4.104, I'd guess not. Where's the section about using a government car to move your kids' stuff to college, or meet up with your girlfriend at home depot...

Anonymous said...

My parents neighbor is a high ranking civilian employee who had been with DPS for at least 14 years. He had a take home vehicle that was taken away less than 6 months after being there. And he still drives his personal truck to work. He says it's a huge mess up there.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that so many comments are being made about the personal vehicle issue. While that is abusive...look around. It happens ALOT. should be picked up as a fringe benefit when used for personal use/commuting. is annoying that our state tax dollars are being used for this crap. (Although if I am not mistaken this office is federally funded??) Anyone who uses a business vehicle for personal use including going to and from work is supposed to be picking it up in INCOME. Those who don't are evading income tax and THAT is an abuse of our FEDERAL income tax dollars. That being said...There are SO MANY BIGGER ISSUES HERE!! I can't believe no one has asked about the "girlfriend" he met IN HIS COMPANY CAR (those of you worried about the state vehicle)? What??? And I have heard about how he looks like an idiot to the other states when he speaks on behalf of MS...and he explodes when he is challenged. Why are these unqualified people who don't know what is going on with the issues their office is tasked with being allowed to continue in positions of authority? No wonder we are the most corrupt state in the nation...and no wonder we look like idiots to other states

Quit Bitchin' And Act said...

Get off your asses and take pictures. Pictures of vehicles with state indicia/logo on the rocker panel parked in private driveways. Note the date and time and include several pictures spaced weeks apart. Note the name of the resident and their occupation. Take the photos after working hours and on weekends. Don't trespass. Take your photos from your car window while stopped or from the sidewalk across the street. Email the photos to The PEER Committee, the State Auditor the State's Attorney General and to Jackson Jambalaya at Kingfish's email address.

Anonymous said...

Some of the posts in this thread have become personal attacks on Barnes - true or not, he obviously has a lot of explaining to do to his family, the governor and the taxpayers. Corn and McMullin's lawsuits, however are less about who has a car, and what they use it for; and more about intimidation, abuse of authority, self-entitlement and larger systemic issues about how the Mississippi DPS is run.

When you do see improper use of state vehicles, use the proper mechanism to report it, Form VMR1 on the DFA website is the way to do it, the form is available at:

Anonymous said...

4.103.01 Law Enforcement
An employee who is a sworn law enforcement officer as defined in Section 45-6-3 of the Code or a law enforcement trainee as defined in Section 45-6-3(e) of the Code, and whose position requires him or her to daily perform the duties of a sworn law enforcement officer may drive a vehicle if use of the vehicle is essential for the employee to carry out their daily job duties.
Agencies must complete Appendix D – Commuting Authorization Request Form and
electronically transmit a copy of the completed Appendix D, along with the completed and approved VR-1 Form, which was used to purchase the law enforcement vehicle, to the BFM.

Anonymous said...

Pickering has an unmarked state vehicle that he uses even for personal use. So its the fox gaurding the hen house so if you report misuse do you really think it will be investigated.

Anonymous said...

The facts are stubborn here - just because someone is categorized as law enforcement does not mean they are a responder; first or otherwise, so a take home car is more of a perk than a mission-critical necessity. What do these guys respond to, and why are they even considered law enforcement? This whole thing seems to be a bit of a stretch.

Anonymous said...

Note To All: "Law Enforcement" as covered in the cited statute does not mean anybody employed at a law enforcement agency. If that were the case, your town dispatcher, records clerk and administrative assistant would be driving city vehicles.

Anonymous said...

11:44 - what's your point? Let me help you out. The policy is based on job function, not title or classification. Just because you are sworn law enforcement doesn't mean you automatically get your own car, you have to demonstrate the need. Plenty of law enforcement folks I know drive their own cars to work and then take a city/county/state car from there.

The policy reads:

"...whose position requires him or her to daily perform the duties (emphasis added) of a sworn law enforcement officer may (emphasis added) drive a vehicle if (emphasis added) use of the vehicle is essential for the employee to carry out their daily job duties."

Looks like a judgment call to me on the part of agency, when was the last time homeland security responded to anything?

And what are these duties, other than driving to and from work, lunch, the pawn shop and motorcycle shop? I don't see anything on their website which alludes to response.

...but I'm just a lawyer - what do I know?

Anonymous said...

McMullins daughter "works" at homeland security...that's GOT to be interesting, I wonder how she's treated???

Anonymous said...

Rusty Barnes has a lot of explaining to do. He also refuses to work with local law enforcement because of the DPS mindset.

Anonymous said...

12:50 - I disagree, he works with SOME local law enforcement, but you have to put up with his bullshit in order to get grant money.

Anonymous said...

From all accounts it seems like "Rusty" isn't a very trustworthy guy, doesn't have a clue what he's doing, has ruined the reputation of a good office, and has the temperament of a five-year-old. How in the hell did he get that job anyway...he needs to go back to the basement of DPS where he belongs.

Anonymous said... I tried to give Barnes the benefit of the doubt, but then I listened to his interview on Gallo this morning...this guy sounds like a real idiot...suspicions confirmed.

Anonymous said...

I noticed he also called out Obama on referring to ISIS as "JV" - what do you want to bet he got a call from Uncle Benny, and what do you want to bet that homeland security funds to Mississippi get cut again next year - think before you open your damn mouth!

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