Fire chief sues over termination
A Florida fire chief is contending his employee rights were violated when he was fired from his position in 2009. The man contends he was fired because of retaliation when he brought up safety problems and other issues that could result from company mergers.
The man was instructed in 2009 to begin reviewing fire service options in Belleair Bluffs, Florida, when the city was considering merging with another rescue district or department. The referendum was required to be decided by voters, but various city officials had inquired about the viability of the merger before it was presented to the voters.
The fire chief was concerned that safety would be compromised because the merger was being enacted too quickly. He expressed this concern to some other city commissioners in an email in August 2009, recommending that additional measures be taken, such as delaying the merger for a year. The email prompted the mayor to immediately suspend the man, according to his suit, and a commission meeting was called for the next day. Officials at that meeting agreed the chief should be fired for his supposed insubordination.
News reports show the man sued the city for violating a whistleblower protection act in the state of Florida. The trial court agreed with the city, however, prompting the man to pursue further action upon appeal.
In this case, the appeals court reversed the trial court’s decision after an April ruling. The man was found to have made a statement that was protected by whistleblower provisions in the state. The court ruled the plaintiff should not have been terminated for his involvement in opposing the merger.
Whistleblowers throughout the state of Florida are often targeted for their compliance with ethical edicts that may conflict with company policy. If you have been fired unfairly because of your ethical act, consider seeking the assistance of a qualified employment attorney. These professionals can help you learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities. They can help you recover financial damages for your trouble, or perhaps even reinstate you into your former position.
Source: hr.blr.com, “Was fire chief terminated for whistleblowing?” No author given, Jun. 06, 2013