The existence of a federal court suit filed in 2014 against an Alabama fire chief and mayor has come to light after someone spray painted the front of fire department headquarters with the words “Chief Syx is a racist”.
The case involves the Bessemer Fire Department, and what began as a 1st Amendment lawsuit filed in December, 2014 by firefighter John Johnson against Fire Chief Paul Syx, Mayor Kenneth Gulley, and the city.
The suit arose over discipline handed out to Johnson over a social media post. After a second amendment complaint was filed today, it is now morphed into a due process and race discrimination case with Johnson claiming he was disciplined for complaining about racially hostile activities within the department, including nooses, swastikas, and offensive language.
The case is so loaded with issues (a captain befriending a subordinate on Facebook that promptly leads to the subordinate being disciplined over something he had just posted; discipline over social media posts when the department has no social media policy; managing hostile work environment complaints; selective enforcement in discipline; 1st Amendment and my favorite topic… the Pickering Balancing test…) its a Fire Law extravaganza but there’s just too much to write about… so…
Here is news video, and below I will post the three complaints filed this far.