Spokane Fire Issues Punishment Following Harassment Investigation

The Spokane Fire Department has announced that it will be disciplining five firefighters following an investigation into sexual harassment and bullying in the department. Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer and IAFF Local 29 President Randy Marler issued a joint statement yesterday indicating a commitment to provide “a workplace free from harassment, discrimination, or retaliation of any kind” and that “bullying, harassment, or offensive behavior will not be tolerated.”

President Marler confirmed the discipline includes a 48-hour suspension without pay for two members and written reprimands to others. It follows a comprehensive report issued April 27, 2018 citing bullying and harassment at Station 2.

The Joint Statement reads as follows:

The City of Spokane and International Association of Firefighters Local 29 are jointly committed to a workplace free from harassment, discrimination, or retaliation of any kind. We firmly believe in treating everyone with dignity, respect, and professionalism.  In response to a recent complaint of workplace harassment and bullying, the City promptly conducted an investigation, the results of which have led to corrective action.  While the investigation findings remain disputed, Local 29 has decided to forego a grievance or other challenge to those findings so that the City and Local 29 can work together to improve overall workplace culture within the Fire Department.  Through this partnership, Local 29 will help lead the discussion on appropriate workplace behavior. 

The City and Local 29 take allegations of workplace misconduct very seriously. As a City, we have taken steps to make sure people have multiple ways to report concerns about workplace behavior and are comfortable coming forward with those concerns. As Chief, I will ensure the department is always working hard to improve by engaging with our community, building an inclusive culture, advancing new knowledge, and leading the way in seeking creative solutions to ever-changing challenges. These responsibilities are also delegated to every employee of the Spokane Fire Department. I have made it clear to the organization that any level of bullying, harassment, or offensive behavior will not be tolerated.

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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