What's next for York mayor's son, on paid leave from city job since assault allegation

Written by Gordon Rago/The York Daily Record | Nov 16, 2017 6:39 AM

York Mayor Kim Bracey (left) and her son Brandon Anderson (Photo: Submitted)

(York) -- About a month after he requested a leave of absence, York city employee Brandon Terrell Anderson's status remains unchanged.

He's on paid leave from his roughly $50,000-a-year job at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, city officials said. He also remains accused in the assault of his mother, the now-outgoing mayor of York, Kim Bracey, a misdemeanor criminal charge that is moving through the county's legal system.

While the city won't comment on the particular type of leave he's on -- citing personnel reasons -- there are a variety of options under which Anderson's situation could fall.

Those range from city policy to federal protections for employees who need extended leave for medical conditions.

In Pennsylvania, employees are not entitled to sick, vacation or personal leave, according to an expert on employment law and the state Department of Labor and Industry. Companies can set their own policies for that.

And they often do, said Ari Karpf, an attorney familiar with employment law with the Bensalem, Pennsylvania, firm Karpf, Karpf and Cerutti, P.C., who spoke generally about the topic. He was unfamiliar with Anderson's case.

According to its policy, the city of York may grant a leave of absence without pay for personal reasons for up to 90 days. That request has to be made by the employee in writing, with a reason and the date when the employee plans to return to work.

A leave of absence can also be granted with pay, with approval from the business administrator and/or mayor, when "such leave shall be in the City's best interest," according to the policy.

Anderson's leave was initiated before human resource officials learned details of Bracey's Sept. 30 assault, business administrator Michael Doweary has said.

In the assault's aftermath, a few details have trickled out: Bracey said in a statement that her son struggles from an opioid addiction. Anderson's attorney, Chris Ferro, said after a preliminary hearing this month that Anderson was in treatment in the northern part of the state.

Ferro declined to say what type of treatment.


Brandon Anderson (Photo: Submitted)

Federal job protections?

Employees with a medical condition generally have three types of protections in Pennsylvania, according to Karpf.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, designed to help prevent discrimination, can protect someone with an addiction, Karpf said.

Employees who qualify for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year.

The act, commonly referred to as FMLA, ensures unpaid leave only, Karpf said. But some employers have policies that allow employees to be paid using accrued sick or personal time off to run at the same time as their FMLA leave.

This type of leave can be broad -- the same employee who has one overnight stay at a hospital is entitled to job protection just the same as the employee who can't work for a month, Karpf explained.

Most, if not all, employers require an employee to fill out an FMLA certification form, where the employee's health care provider or physician essentially verifies the need for medical leave, according to Karpf.

But that form only goes so far. Little needs to be disclosed about the person's health or specific reason for needing to take leave, he said.

Karpf said that the interplay between FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act, another federal protection, is that FMLA requires courts to apply whichever provides greater protection.

"The ADA just says the employer has to reasonably accommodate the employee," Karpf said.

While the employer has to provide a reasonable accommodation, the employee still has to be able to do his or her job, said Neil Reichenberg, the executive director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, which provides research, training and certification for human resource officials in the public sector.

A common example is an employee who goes blind but whose job requires that he or she drive a car -- there would be no reasonable accommodations, Reichenberg said. He compared that to an employee who has a hearing disability and an employer who can provide a device on the office phone to help him or her hear.

Just as a medical provider can verify the need to go on leave, the same can be done when the employee comes back on the job. Karpf said that comes in the form of a return to work certificate.

What options does York have?

While not commenting on details of Anderson's leave, York assistant solicitor Jason Sabol said recently that a timetable on the possibility of Anderson being disciplined in relation to the alleged assault is not yet clear.

"At this point, I think any disciplinary action could be on the table," Sabol said. "Certainly, we'll conduct an internal investigation and make a determination on what's appropriate."

That could range from no discipline to a "write-up" to termination. Possibly, Anderson could make a decision not to come back to work, Sabol said.

If an employee quits, what happens next is generally policy specific. An employee who has anything vested, such as a 401(k) plan or a pension, is entitled to those benefits, Karpf said.

And an employee's medical leave doesn't shield them completely from any disciplinary action if they are found to have violated misconduct policies, said Karpf.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record. 

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