WILKES-BARRE — In a surprise move, city Health Department employee James Hayward gave notice he will retire at the end of the month, less than halfway through the two years remaining for the grant secured to pay for his job.
Mayor Tony George on Monday said he suspected Hayward accrued enough time during his five months of employment as a health educator to be eligible for a pension. He said he hired Hayward in March in order to help him pay for tuition for his daughter and take courses to reactivate his law license.
“No good deed goes unpunished,” George said. “I’m kind of shocked too. I don’t know how he got his time.”
It takes 12 years to become vested for a pension, George said. Hayward couldn’t have more than seven or eight years of participation in a pension plan from when he worked as firefighter, George said.
But city Administrator Ted Wampole added that it was unclear if Hayward could collect a pension and more research on his employment history was needed.
“It would be premature to comment,” Wampole said.
Hayward, who was born in 1951, previously worked as a city firefighter and held several positions in the administration of former Mayor Tom McGroarty. When reached by phone Monday Hayward said, “No thanks,” and hung up.
His exit, planned for Aug. 31, added to the controversy caused by his hiring in March. Hayward, who attended law school after leaving the fire department due to an injury, had not worked in the public sector for years and had been suspended from practicing law in state and federal courts when he applied for the position in the health department.
The city hired Hayward under the $622,523 Pennsylvania Department of Health block grant to provide preventive health and health services during a three-year period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2020. His health educator job paid $26,000 a year and fringe benefits calculated at a flat rate of 42 percent of the annual wage. The city contributed to his pension with Public Service Employees Local 1310 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
Wampole said the city would fill the vacancy created by Hayward’s retirement.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.