Clark County Firefighter Takes Aim at County for Sick Leave Defamation

A Clark County, Nevada firefighter who was terminated last year for abusing his sick leave, has filed a Federal lawsuit against the county alleging Family Medical Leave Act violations, defamation, invasion of privacy and due process violations.

Donald Munn was terminated on May 17, 2011 over his use of sick leave. He was reinstated by an arbitrator last month who awarded him full back pay. Munn alleges that his use of sick leave was legitimate and associated with the medical condition of his 21 year old son, who is developmentally challenged, suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, and has a host of medical illnesses.

Munn’s lawsuit claims the fire department:

  • Violated his due process rights under the 5th and 14th Amendments and the Nevada state constitution by terminating him without a hearing and without complying with the procedural requirements in the collective bargaining agreement with Clark County Firefighters, IAFF Local 1908
  • Defamed him and invaded his privacy by publically releasing his email messages, which resulted in Munn being subjected to the public’s scorn and ridicule as a sick leave abuser
  • Was negligent when it released personal and private information about him to the press causing him injuries
  • Violated the Family Medical Leave Act by wrongfully demanding Certificates of Illness going back several years, failing to  recognize his situation as one qualifying for protection under the FMLA, and retaliating against him in violation of the FMLA when they terminated him

The suit was filed on May 30, 2012. Here is a copy of the complaint.  Munn v Clark County

The complaint is a very long read – but it will give you much more information about what occurred than you will find in any of the news stories about his case. Of course it is a one sided view of things but the allegations stand in stark contrast to most of what has been written about the Clark County sick leave and overtime scandal.

One final point for the legal eagles out there – get a load of this allegation:

137. The County only pretends to care about sick leave when it is politically expedient to patronize the plebiscite.

Wow.. actually wow on two counts. First, I’m not sure what they are teaching young lawyers these days  – but we were taught to plead the facts and the law, not make speculative comments… or worse use inflammatory rhetoric… in our pleadings… but I digress….

Second – here is the Merriam-Webster  definition of plebiscite: “a vote by which the people of an entire country or district express an opinion for or against a proposal especially on a choice of government or ruler”.

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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