Massachusetts Facebook Case Settled

The convoluted disciplinary case of a Bourne, Massachusetts firefighter that included grievances, unfair labor practices, civil service proceedings, state court proceedings, and even a Federal lawsuit has been resolved.

In February, 2011 firefighter Richard Doherty was terminated over a number of Facebook rants that he posted that maligned… well …. virtually everyone – from fire department ranking officers, local elected officials, police officers and the public.

Doherty claimed that his speech was protected under the First Amendment and that some of the speech was also protected under labor relations law. The state Civil Service Commission upheld the right of the department to discipline Doherty, but reduced the penalty from termination to a 15 months suspension. Doherty has since retired from the department.

The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but are reported to wrap up all of the various outstanding suits and proceedings in the case.

More on the story.

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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