Consequently, a city employee has re-paid salary he drew even when not working.
Erath Mayor George Dupuis said he did not realize it was against the law to pay a city employee, who was not working. He knows now.
For the last year, a part-time worker stopped working because he had to undergo cancer treatments. When the worker went on administrative leave last summer, Dupuis continued to keep him on payroll.
The individual collected just under $9,000 from the town during that period.
Last week the Erath Aldermen, unaware of the arrangement between the mayor and the worker, voted to have the worker pay all of the money back to the town.
He paid the money back quickly.
No criminal charges are expected to be filed against Dupuis or the individual.
“I put the individual on administrative leave and told the person that his job will still be there when he returns from being sick,” Dupuis said. “I did everything correct except I paid him for the year. He did nothing wrong. It was all on me for paying him. In my heart I think I did right.”
But the law says otherwise.
While a private business can pay an employee who does not work, in the public realm it is not legal to pay someone who is not working.
Dupuis, who is in his third term as mayor, was unaware of that important fact.
It was brought to his attention recently when an Erath resident, who knew the employee was not working because of medical condition, saw the person cashing a payroll check at a bank. The person went to Dupuis and wanted to know why was the individual on sick-leave but still had a payroll check coming in.
Dupuis said it was then he discovered it was against the law to pay a person who was not working.
“I had my own company for years, I would have helped an employee who was in the same condition,” he said. “I did not want to do anything wrong. I did not do it to gain votes. My reason was to help the guy who was going back and forth to Houston for treatments.”
The employee, in his 70s, is expected to return to work in August if his health continues to improve, Dupuis said. He will continue to work for the town of Erath three days a week making just under $8 per hour.