LP&L Employee Claims No Pay Raise Is Violation of Constitutional Rights

Published 03/20 2014 10:44AM

Updated 03/20 2014 11:32AM

By James Clark

LUBBOCK, TX -- The Lubbock Power & Light Director of Finance, Damian Pantoya, threatens to sue the City of Lubbock. Documents related to the issue were provided Wednesday after an open records request.

In February Pantoya’s attorney, J. Craig Johnston, wrote a demand letter to City Manager James Loomis. It said Loomis denied Pantoya’s grievance for a pay increase.  Official public records indicate Pantoya is paid $118,518.40 annually for the current fiscal year.

Johnston’s letter said, “If you will recall, the grievance related to the City’s rejection of a pay increase for Mr. Pantoya after the increase was specifically approved by the director of LP&L.”

“It is our position that the rejection of the pay increase constitutes a violation of the City of Lubbock Charter and Ordinances, as well as the Texas Government Code…”

Johnston also said it was a violation of Pantoya’s constitutional rights.

“Specifically, these laws grant the director of LP&L complete discretion and authority to grant the pay increase that had been given to Mr. Pantoya,” Johnston wrote. “The City does not have the authority to reject the pay increase.”

The City of Lubbock Charter says, “The [City] Council shall fix and determine the salaries and wages of all appointive officers and employees of the City, unless otherwise provided in this Charter…”

The charter also says, “The City Council shall retain the right to … approve the budget of the electric utility.”

Johnston’s letter said, “My client … feels like he has unfortunately been caught in the crossfire of a power struggle between the City and LP&L concerning the management of the utility. He believes he has worked hard for LP&L and deserves the pay increase that had been approved.”

Johnston also said, “I have been authorized to institute litigation on this matter in state or federal court for the violations of Mr. Pantoya’s constitutional rights.”

Pantoya’s name was listed for discussion by the City Council in mid-March; however, the agenda provided no details.

At that time Mayor Glen Robertson would only say the situation was related to a grievance filed by an LP&L employee and it was “likely to become litigation.”

Mr. Johnston did not return multiple calls.

A spokesman for LP&L said, “We cannot comment on personnel matters.”

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