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Missouri House panel to look into hostility claims

Updated: 2013-11-02T01:42:14Z

By DAVID A. LIEB

The Associated Press

— Missouri’s Republican-led House plans a legislative hearing following recent allegations of workplace hostility in two agencies under the control of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

House Speaker Tim Jones said Friday he has asked for a hearing after the former directors of the departments of agriculture and labor were accused of intimidation or discrimination.

“We must be absolutely sure that the Nixon administration is not appointing people to positions of power and then standing idly by while they abuse state workers,” Jones, a Eureka Republican, said in a statement.

A Nixon spokesman had no comment.

Nixon replaced Agriculture Department Director Jon Hagler last month and Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Larry Rebman in March. In both cases, Nixon praised their performances in office while announcing their replacements.

Earlier this week, former Employment Security Division Director Gracia Backer released documents she filed alleging gender and age discrimination by Rebman. Backer also said she had been fired by Nixon’s administration in March in retaliation for raising concerns about Rebman.

Rebman has denied discriminating against Backer.

Hagler’s replacement came a day after another high-ranking department employee, Beth Ewers, resigned while distributing a letter alleging that Hagler had created a work environment of “hostility, disrespect, intimidation and fear.”

This week officials at the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association also came forward to say that Hagler had threatened one of its executives after becoming upset about a magazine article.

Hagler has not commented about the allegations.

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