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New Berlin's HR director Tamara Potkay is reinstated in her job under court order

Aug. 4, 2014

New Berlin — A preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order were granted in United States district court requiring Tamara Potkay to be allowed to returned to work as the New Berlin director of human resources.

Potkay's legal dispute with city officials continues, despite the court's ruling, and the issue may land in court, again.

Potkay had argued before U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert Jr. that she was denied her due process rights when her position was consolidated with that of the city clerk in a reorganization earlier this year.

Due to the court orders, she was reinstated Wednesday, July 30. But Mayor Dave Ament directed that she must work from home.

Ament was not available to explain why. But in documents filed with the court, the city claimed that city hall had been reorganized with offices and staff being moved around and it would be hard to have Potkay come back.

But Potkay's attorney Walter Kelly said the arrangement is not acceptable.

"It's completely unacceptable and a violation of the court order," he said. "I think it's likely we will challenge the mayor's action," he said. That challenge might take the form of further injunctive relief or a contempt of court complaint.

Kelly also alleges that Potkay has been denied access to city hall and other conditions have been applied limiting her prerogatives and her ability to carry out her duties.

Potkay has been employed with New Berlin since 1990 and head of HR since 1997.

Having Potkay work from home does not violate the judge's order, Gregg Gunta, attorney for the city, said. The judge's order doesn't say anything about where Potkay was to work or about what duties she was to perform, Gunta said.

He cited a portion of the decision: "Further, while the court is returning Potkay to her position as HR director, the court will not direct what duties (if any) must be performed by the HR director as this case proceeds."

He said the city is in the process of following the reorganization procedure.

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