Michigan Fire Department Sued For Whistleblower Violation

A Michigan firefighter who was terminated last August has filed a whistleblower suit claiming his dismissal was retaliation for reporting the fire chief for responding to an alarm after drinking.

City of Clare firefighter Matt Halicek claims his problems began last November when Fire Chief Jim Chapman responded on a mutual aid run with alcohol on his breath. Halicek reported the incident to City Manager Ken Hibl, who investigated and concluded the city’s alcohol policy had not been violated.

Halicek claims Chief Chapman later accused him of trying to have him fired. He claims last August he met with Chief Chapman who asked him if he wanted to resign, and then terminated him when he said no.

The suit filed last week, alleges a violation of Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act. The act states:

An employer shall not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against an employee regarding the employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location, or privileges of employment because the employee, or a person acting on behalf of the employee, reports or is about to report, verbally or in writing, a violation or a suspected violation of a law or regulation or rule promulgated pursuant to law of this state, a political subdivision of this state, or the United States to a public body, unless the employee knows that the report is false, or because an employee is requested by a public body to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry held by that public body, or a court action.

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.
x

Check Also

Court Dissolves Chicago Fire Department’s 42-Year-Old Consent Decree

The City of Chicago and the US Department of Justice have agreed to dissolve a 42-year-old consent decree that has governed promotions within the Chicago Fire Department since 1980. The race-based consent decree governed the promotional process from engineer through battalion chief within the department for the past four decades.

Fire Law Roundup for June 27, 2022

In this episode of Fire Law Roundup for June 20, 2022, Brad and Curt discuss a court ruling upholding the termination of a Hunstville, TX firefighter; the indefinite suspension of a San Antonino captain for waiving a handgun at colleagues; a disability discrimination suit by an FDNY EMT terminated for not getting a COVID vaccine; the dismissal of a retaliation suit by a LAFD firefighter; and concerns about an uptick in lawsuits against fire while assisting police.