A Washington state fire captain is contesting discipline handed down over his use of the fire department email system to deliver religious messages.
Spokane Valley Fire Department Captain Jon Sprague was suspended without pay for two 24-hour shifts for conduct unbecoming and violating an order.
Captain Sprague is the founder of a Christian support group, the Spokane County Christian Firefighter Fellowship. He uses the department’s email system to send out announcements for meetings and events as well as a monthly newsletter.
In January Captain Sprague was cautioned about the improper use of the email system. In April he was issued a letter of counseling and in May he received a letter of reprimand. The 2 day suspension was issued on June 27, 2012.
Captain Sprague was quoted in the Spokesman Review as saying he has no intention of stopping. “Personally, it’s a matter of faith and conscience.”
IAFF Local 876 has filed a grievance over the discipline and Captain Sprague has filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging a 1st Amendment violation and religious discrimination. Also at issue is the fact that other firefighters have used the email system to send non-fire department related messages, such as for fundraisers.