Opening statements began in mid-October in the case of a Florida firefighter who alleges that he lost his job after he publicly criticized his department. The man, who had been the assistant fire chief at the Pembroke Pines department, is seeking financial compensation for wrongful termination in connection with the case. A six-person jury will decide whether to award the man financial damages because he lost his job.
The man alleges that the fire department eliminated his position because they wanted to get rid of him, while the city argues that the personnel cuts were due to budget constraints. City officials say they eliminated the position because of the $158,000 annual expenditure for the assistant fire chief position. The man had also begun collecting his pension, in the amount of $150,000 annually. Still, no firefighter had ever been laid off in the past because of budget restrictions, according to the victim’s attorney, who said that the department would generally demote the person to save money.
The victim had been outspoken about the shortcomings of the department and city, advocating for firefighters in the media by arguing against reduced salaries and benefits. In addition, some positions would have been outsourced, limiting job possibilities for local residents. When the man spoke out against these dubious practices, his position was soon on the chopping block, according to his civil suit.
Damages sought in the case include compensation for earnings, health insurance, bonuses and other types of benefits.
No employee deserves to be fired because of advocacy for other workers. In this case, the man was not a member of the firefighters’ union, so he was particularly vulnerable to retaliation because he was not protected by union mandates. People who think they have been unfairly fired by their employers should consider seeking compensation for their job loss by consulting a qualified employment attorney.
articles.sun-sentinel.com, “Fired assistant chief sues Pembroke Pines” Heather Carney, Oct. 08, 2013