RALEIGH — An administrative court judge ruled Wednesday that the N.C. Highway Patrol acted within its authority when it terminated the employment of Hubert Sealey, who serves on the Robeson County Board of Commissioners.
Sealey told The Robesonian this morning that he was surprised by the judge’s ruling.
“I wasn’t happy with the decision, but sometimes you have to play with the cards you are dealt,” Sealey said. "... I plan to exhaust all of my appeals.”
Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred G. Morrisison Jr. on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13 heard Sealey’s charges that the Highway Patrol discriminated against him because of his race when he was disciplined and had his employment terminated in May 2011. The judge also considered whether the Highway Patrol had just cause in terminating Sealey’s employment.
According to the ruling, the North Carolina State Personnel Commission will make the final decision in the case. State law requires that before a final decision is made, it is required that both Sealey and the Highway Patrol have an opportunity to file exceptions to the decision and to present written arguments to those who will make the final decision.
The Personnel Commission could take several months to review the case and reach a final decision.
Sealey, who is black, was accused of several acts of misconduct, including disobeying a direct order; neglecting his duties; violating explicit patrol policies dealing with outside employment; and lying during a patrol Internal Affairs investigation. He was fired from his position for conducting both private and county government business while on duty with the Highway Patrol, according to documents released by the patrol in June 2011.
Sealey had told The Robesonian early on during the investigation into his activities that his firing was due to a “secondary employment issue” related to work outside of his patrol job, but declined to elaborate. According to documents released by the Highway Patrol, an investigation of Sealey’s activities while on the job show that he violated at least four Highway Patrol directives: truthfulness; insubordination; neglect of duty; and rules about secondary employment and the limitation of that employment.
It was determined during the investigation that Sealey conducted county business over his county and personal cell phone while on duty, and conducted work for the private mental health company, Independent Community Based Services, which is owned by his wife, while on duty. Sealey had been employed by the patrol since January 2003, and was assigned to the Motor Carrier Enforcement Division based in Fayetteville.
Shortly after Sealey’s dismissal from the patrol, the Robeson County branch of the NAACP complained that Sealey’s firing was race related. The NAACP charged that several years ago another trooper, who was white, was found guilty of the same charges but was given a lesser penalty and kept his job.
A resident of Fairmont, he is currently serving his third four-year term on the county Board of Commissioners as the District 2 representative.