Vt. medical examiner placed on administrative leave

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont Chief Medical Examiner Steven Shapiro has been placed on administrative leave after complaints that he created a hostile work environment.

Steven Shapiro/File

He works in a state office many us of have never seen, dissecting bodies in the morgue for clues about what killed them. Most of the time when the public does get a glimpse of Dr. Steven Shapiro it's in the courtroom, testifying about how a victim died.

Shapiro has been Vermont's Chief Medical Examiner since 2006. He's also the state's highest paid employee, earning more than $192,000 last year.

On Tuesday he was asked to leave the office pending an investigation. In a statement, health department officials said: "Vermont Chief Medical Examiner Steven Shapiro is on paid leave pending a Department of Human Resources investigation that is unrelated to medical practice."

Vermont Human Resources Commissioner Beth Fastiggi declined a request for a comment, saying "it would not be appropriate for (her) to discuss an employment related matter."

We also reached out to Shapiro's lawyer, Brooks McArthur, for a comment. He declined, but issued the following statement:

"While we can confirm that Dr. Shapiro has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Department of Human Resources, Dr. Shapiro unequivocally denies any wrong doing. The Human Resources investigation was initiated after a complaint was made to the Agency of Human Services alleging that Dr. Shapiro had created a hostile/intimidating work environment after he communicated his displeasure with other individuals working in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner after Dr. Shapiro became aware that a serious internal procedural error had occurred. It is very important that the public understand that this is an investigation and the allegations against him do not have any nexus to criminal activity nor involve any conduct of a sexual nature. Dr. Shapiro will respect the investigative process and he looks forward to getting back to work."

Shapiro has been Vermont's chief medical examiner since 2006. He earns an hourly wage of $92.52 an hour, the highest salary of any state employee.

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Elizabeth Bundock will assume leadership of the office during Shapiro's absence.