Fired Missouri Chief Gains Reprieve

A Missouri deputy chief who was fired in 2011 and sued unsuccessfully for wrongful termination to get his job back, has been rehired by the same department as assistant fire chief.

Deputy Chief Cary Spiegel was one of four chief officers fired by the Monarch Fire Protection District in November 2011, shortly after the district lost a discrimination suit brought by four female firefighter paramedics. Donna Kessler, Dana Buckley, Donna Weiss and Kathleen Kraus claimed they had been subjected to a sexually hostile work environment.

A jury found that Kessler and Buckley had been subjected to a hostile work environment and awarded them $200,000 each as compensatory damages. Kraus and Weiss lost their claims, and no longer work for the fire district.

When an appellate court upheld the jury’s verdict, the district’s board terminated Assistant Chief Les Crews, Battalion Chief Fred Goodson, Battalion Chief  Mike Davis, and  Deputy Chief Spiegel. Battalion Chief Goodson committed suicide on December 8, 2011.

Chief Crews, Davis and Spiegel sued for wrongful termination alleging political retaliation, claiming they were actually fired because they clashed with the firefighter’s union.

According to a press release issued by the district:

Mr. Spiegel’s exemplary career with the Monarch Fire Protection District was interrupted in late 2011 when he was accused of misdeeds, which the majority of this Board has determined were unfounded. A lengthy trial which included thousands of pages of deposition and sworn testimony resulted in a monetary penalty to the District of a fraction of what was sought by two former and two current employees. Mr. Spiegel was never connected to the accusations of the prevailing plaintiffs.

Here is a copy of the press release. MonarchAnnouncement


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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