Judge rules against Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger in 'toxic work environment' case

Judge rules against Macomb County clerk in workplace grievance case

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – For weeks, Macomb County has been paying four employees in the clerk's office to stay home because of what it calls a toxic work environment.

On Wednesday, a judge agreed with that assessment in a judgment against Clerk Karen Spranger for committing an unfair labor practice.

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The decision means the county will bring back the four employees -- three of them supervisors -- and if Spranger doesn't comply with the order, she can be held in contempt.

The complaint was filed by UAW Local 412 in March, but the original incident goes back to Jan. 12, right after Spranger took office.

Spranger allegedly questioned an employee about where her loyalties would lie if grievances had to be filed.

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The judge ruled Wednesday that Spranger's remarks were threatening, coercive and in violation of the Public Employment Relations Act.

Spranger declined to comment on camera Thursday, but she said she didn't have a reaction because she didn't know about the ruling yet.

The ruling also came with an order to post a notice around the office, stating she will not interfere, coerce or restrain employees from doing their jobs.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel's office said the ruling allowed them to bring the four employees back from paid administrative leave.

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According to Hackel's office, they were removed because the working environment in Spranger's office had become too hostile to continue.

One of the employees on administrative leave said they're under the impression that Spranger believes she fired them and they won't be welcomed back.

If she doesn't comply with the cease and desist, she could be held in contempt.

About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.