Demoted California Captain Seeks New Hearing

A fire captain in Selma, California who was demoted earlier this year, has filed suit claiming the city failed to provide him with proper notice and an opportunity to be heard at an appellate hearing before the city council. Eric Beasley filed suit in Fresno County Superior Court naming the City of Selma, the fire chief and the city manager, accusing them of violating the California Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Captain Beasley was accused of engaging in sexually harassing behavior, allowing subordinates to watch a sexually graphic movie, advising female subordinates that they needed “thick skin,” and admonishing them to follow the chain of command by reporting any harassment related problems to him first. After an investigation, he was demoted and appealed that decision.

While awaiting his hearing, Captain Beasley changed attorneys, which apparently contributed to him missing his hearing on October 2, 2020 before the City Council. Due to his absence, he lost his appeal by default. The city has refused Captain Beasley’s request to set aside the default and grant him a new hearing.

The lawsuit contends that the city’s failure to comply with the procedural requirements in the California Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights and the Administrative Procedures Act violated the US and state constitutions. It seeks a writ of mandamus ordering the city to provide Captain Beasley with an appropriate hearing. It also seeks full compensation and “other emoluments lost due to his demotion.”

Attached is a copy of the complaint:

Attached to the complaint are a number of additional materials that may be of interest to those who have been through the Managing Disciplinary Challenges in the Fire Service class, including notice of paid leave, notice of interview, and notice of charges. These are actually quite well done.

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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