Missouri Sex Harassment Ruling Sparks Termination of Four Chiefs

Four chief officers in the Monarch Fire Protection District have been terminated following an appeals court ruling in a sexual harassment suit.

On November 15, 2011, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict in favor of two female firefighters who claimed they were subjected to a hostile work environment. Four days later, on November 19, 2011, the fire protection district’s board voted 2-0 in favor of the terminations.

Exactly why the four chiefs, Assistant Chief Les Crews, Deputy Chief Cary Spiegel and battalion chiefs Fred Goodson and Mike Davis, were singled out for discipline remains unclear. The fire chief, Clifford “Chip” Biele, is retiring November 30, 2011 and was not among those dismissed.

When asked by a reporter afterwards if the board terminated the right employees, board president Kim Evans was evasive. “We addressed all the personnel who were named within this lawsuit, that was confirmed on the appeal”.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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