Olathe — The Johnson County Commission agreed Thursday to have individual grievance hearings for the eight employees District Attorney Phill Kline fired in January.
Following a 30-minute closed-door session with commissioners, Chief Counsel Dan Jarrett said in a statement that the employees won't receive any financial compensation and that the county isn't on the hook for any additional compensation.
But the hearings, expected to take place within the week and be organized by the county's human resources department, solve two immediate problems: ending the legal quandary facing the county government over Kline's treatment of the eight and possibly making it easier for the workers to find new jobs.
"The settlement eliminates the county from liability," Jarrett said.
After taking office in January, Kline fired seven assistant district attorneys and the chief investigator so he could bring in his own workers. He refused to participate in county grievance hearings, saying that while the county funds his office, he is a state official and not bound by county employment procedures.
He's not bound by the agreement and may still ignore the hearings. But the employees are also not prevented from pursuing additional action against him and the state in court.
County officials initially refused to have the hearings without Kline's participation, but a federal judge said they could have the hearings without fears of putting county taxpayers in harm's way.
"The board firmly believes that the settlement is in the best interests of the county and its taxpayers," Jarrett said.
Commissioners voted 6-1 earlier in the day to ask state lawmakers to step in and help mediate the dispute between Kline and the workers.
The county introduced legislation Wednesday to change its Home Rule Charter and force the district attorney to follow county policies on hiring, firing, compensation, budget and finance.
"It's time for this to quit. The public is tired of this," said commission chairwoman Annabeth Surbaugh. "It's time to stop the madness. We don't play fun and games with politics."
Commissioner John Toplikar cast the lone dissenting vote.
"This appears to be nothing but a 'get Phill Kline bill,"' he said. "This sends a very bad signal to the public."