REVEALED: Details of council GM's midnight sacking
Lismore City Council's former general manager, Shelley Oldham, said she found out she no longer had a job via text message, delivered in the middle of the night.
Ms Oldham claimed she had no idea her job was at risk when she left the February 9 council meeting, and was shocked to receive the news via text message at 12.26am, followed by a voicemail from the new mayor Vanessa Ekins at 12.27am.
Councillors voted to end her employment immediately during a confidential session, when a matter of urgency motion was raised.
Ms Oldham said she thought the confidential session was to discuss code of conduct complaints against former mayor Isaac Smith.
She said she chose not to be a part of the discussion as she "did not want to be a part of a demeaning conversation about him".
She said she left the council chambers as she did not think the open council session would reconvene at that late hour.
However the meeting did reconvene, and Ms Oldham said the decision to terminate her employment was reported via social media before she herself had received the news.
She slammed the way she was terminated as unprofessional and said she felt like she was treated like a criminal.
The text message received by the former general manager was a screenshot of a letter which stated: "The council have resolved to terminate your employment pursuant to clause 10.3.5 of the Contract. Accordingly your contract and employment with council ceases effective immediately".
"Your right to access and your entitlement to council private property including all IT systems and databases but not limited to email, internet, electronic record systems also ceases immediately. You are required to return all council property in your possession or custody as soon as practicable and not later than 5pm on 10 February, 2021."
It was signed by Cr Ekins.
Ms Oldham claimed during her employment "there has been extensive bullying and a toxic culture in Lismore City Council".
"If this is how your councillors value someone that has helped them get back in the black, has worked on average 70hrs per week and has increased grant income fourfold then Lismore residents cannot expect to be respected at all. Treating anyone like a criminal and throwing them out of the building at 2am is appalling."
When the council was contacted for a comment on the matter, a spokesman said the general manager's employment was terminated according to the Department of Local Government's Standard Contract of Employment.
"Lismore City Council terminated the contract of former general manager Shelley Oldham in accordance with 10.3.5 of the Standard Contract of Employment," he said.
This contract says an employee must be paid 38 weeks' pay if their employment is terminated without being given 38 weeks' written notice of termination.
Based on figures in the council's 2020 annual report, that sum was estimated to be more than $240,000.
Ms Oldham said the usual process of terminating a senior staffer's employment would involve sitting down with them and working out an exit strategy.
She said the council could have handled her termination with "some sort of dignity".