ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Authorities say 17 Fulton County Health inspectors are off the job this week and one employee has been fired following a department-wide audit that revealed problems with timekeeping.
The whistleblower says the discrepancy was revealed on July 10 when Fulton County Health Department officials told several inspectors they would be suspended.
County officials say this all started when one Fulton County inspector was videotaped coming out of a grocery store when she should have been teleworking.
Board of Health employees say indiscretion caused a countywide audit and these disciplinary actions are a result of that audit.
The whistleblower says she was told it was a timekeeping issue.
"They said inspectors did not use the activity manager, which is a took that no one used and that was standard practice. So, they claimed it appeared we were stealing hours, but we were not," the employee complained.
Fulton County Commission Chairman Rob Pitts had this to say about the mass suspensions.
"One person has been dismissed and several others, the numbers are around 10 or 15 or so, have been suspended, without pay. It involved timekeeping. They were supposed to have been working, but were scheming somehow. They were caught quite frankly," the chairman recalled.
The interim Fulton County Health Director Dr. Sandra Ford released a statement late Monday afternoon. It reads as follows:
"The full audit was performed because there was an incident of questionable timekeeping and unreported absences among staff that raised the suspicion of leadership, warranting a more in-depth investigation.
"The investigation is still in progress.
"Overall, Fulton County has 50 Environmental Health staff, and 28 Environmental Specialists. However, several of the other Environmental Health staff, such as EH Managers, are also able to perform inspections
"These suspensions will not affect county inspections and operations. This time of year, the majority of environmental health effort is focused towards inspections of pools. All pools have already been inspected for the year. The Fulton County Board of Health is committed to the well-being of all County residents and visitors. We want to assure our residents that continuity of operations, with a focus on protecting the health of the public, is our primary goal."
The one employee who was terminated said she opted to take a pink slip, rather than admit to something she did not do.