Omaha Captain Loses Her Bid to Block Transfer

An Omaha fire captain has lost her initial request for a court order blocking her transfer out of an EMS staff position.

Captain Melanie Bates filed suit earlier this month against the city of Omaha, Mayor Jim Suttle and Fire Chief Mike McDonnell, alleging her transfer was retaliation for her cooperation with state auditors looking into fire department finances.

The city countered that Captain Bates was moved from her staff position as a grant writer back to a suppression unit to address a staffing need, and cut down on unnecessary overtime. A department wide reorganization had placed a number of staff personnel back into line positions.

In ruling on the case last Thursday, Douglas County District Judge James Gleason concluded “The court finds it to be totally incredible to think that the chief would go to the extent of reorganizing the OFD and transferring 10 percent of the department’s workforce in order to retaliate against the plaintiff.”

For more on the ruling.

This video has more on the background of the suit.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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