An Expert Games the System

By:  Chip Wood
An Expert Games the System

Dorothy Dugger was employed by the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in San Francisco, and even though she didn’t do any work for BART last year, she still earned more than any other BART employee.

You’ve got to hand it to Dorothy Dugger. The lady is an absolute genius when it comes to squeezing every possible penny from her former employer and from the taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill.

For more than 20 years, Dugger was employed by the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in San Francisco. And even though she didn’t do a lick of work for BART last year, she still managed to earn more than any of the other 3,340 BART employees — including the person who replaced her as general manager.

Although it sounds impossible, she earned a gross salary of more than $333,000 in 2012 without putting in a single hour on the job. Hers was the top wage at BART. I’ll tell you in a moment how she did it.

But that’s not all. Check out the other ways the longtime government employee found to game the system. Her ultimate payoff could be in the millions of dollars.

The sad charade began in the spring of 2011, when BART’s board tried to fire her as general manager. However, in the process, the board failed to follow some of the State’s public-meeting laws. Rather than face a messy lawsuit over their mistake, the board agreed to pay Dugger $920,000 if she’d just go away.

Dugger agreed and tendered her resignation in May 2011. But that was far from the end of the story. She then said she wanted to start collecting for all of the vacation time she had earned but not used in the 20 years she worked for BART. Believe it or not, that came to nearly 3,100 hours of unused vacation time.

Unlike most businesses, which have a “use it or lose it” policy when it comes to vacations, BART allows its employees to bank the value of those unused vacation days. And get this: The “value” is calculated not at what the employee was earning at the time, but at whatever salary was being paid when the employee decides to collect on it.

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