FOX 32 speaks with ex-DNR official about resignation - FOX 32 News Chicago

FOX 32 speaks with ex-DNR official about resignation

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Travis Loyd resigned last week from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources after FOX 32 raised questions about his use of sick leave.

He told FOX 32 that in addition to losing his job, he's lost his top pro-fishing sponsor, and has been threatened by members of the public who are angry that he was out fishing while on paid sick leave.

He wanted to make it very clear to everyone that he was never trying to cheat taxpayers out of a dime, or beat the system.

Loyd, who resigned as deputy DNR director last Thursday, recalls very clearly the conversation with his doctor last spring where she told him he needed to find a way to reduce his stress.

"She said I want to know where a happy place is for you. and I said, well there's no happier place for me, and anybody who would know me, would know this, I love to fish, its been a lifelong passion," Loyd said.

So his physician, Doctor Tricia Warner, recommended that Loyd take some time off, and keep fishing. Loyd said the doctor had just informed him that a chronic hereditary illness had flared up, and could be life threatening.

"There was possible organ loss that could take place. very scary consultation, scared me to death, to be quite frankly," Loyd said.

His doctor notified the DNR, and agency officials approved his medical leave.

FOX 32 started asking questions when it was learned that during his forty-four consecutive days of sick leave, he was fishing in professional bass fishing tournaments, and winning almost $4,000.

The DNR responded to the inquiries last week by saying there was zero tolerance for employee misconduct, and "As soon as this situation came to light we moved swiftly to address it. The individual has since resigned."

Loyd said he was pressured to resign and never got a fair hearing.

"I've had great loss, I've lost sponsors, I've lost my job, and its all simply put, I followed the rules," Loyd said.

Loyd said DNR officials have known for years that he was a pro fisherman, and that it wasn't FOX 32's questions that brought the situation to light.

He also claims his doctor's plan, including his pro fishing, was copied to his supervisors.

In response, a DNR spokesperson told FOX 32 that Loyd's dual employment "was known generally by the agency," but the rules changed when he went on medical leave.

Those rules say..."an employee shall not be granted designated FMLA leave of absence for the purpose of seeking or taking employment elsewhere or operating a private business."

Loyd said his doctors orders, approved by the DNR, should outweigh the prohibition against holding a job while on medical leave..

"While it might be weird that a doctor would prescribe me to go to a stress free zone, and as it be, its' fishing for me, they cant say I didn't list my dual employment. They can't say I didn't file for family medical leave act, and they can't say they didn't approve it. It was all there," Loyd said.

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