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    Default Tallahassee, FL--EMS Chief, Official Suspended

    Two Leon County EMS administrators suspended with pay


    Two Leon County EMS administrators were suspended with pay today as part of an investigation into alleged sexual harassment.

    EMS Chief Dan Moynihan and Maj. Michael DeSouza were suspended after a female paramedic filed a complaint of workplace harassment against DeSouza last week.

    Moynihan is not targeted in the complaint. He was suspended, in part, because he is ultimately responsible for what goes on in the EMS division, Assistant County Administrator Vince Long said.

    Moynihan joined the county shortly after it took over the EMS service from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital in late 2003.

    For more on this story, see tomorrow's Tallahassee Democrat.

    Copyright, Tallahassee Democrat
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    Dan Moynihan, chief of Leon County's Emergency Medical Services, and Michael DeSouza, a high-ranking EMS official, were suspended Thursday after a female paramedic filed a workplace harassment complaint against DeSouza.

    The paramedic filed the complaint Feb. 9, which touched off an investigation by the county's human resources department, according to Vince Long, assistant county administrator.

    Long would not discuss the nature of the allegation against DeSouza because of the investigation but said Moynihan was not directly accused of sexual harassment in the complaint.

    "At the end of the day, we hold the chief responsible for the environment that's created," Long said. "And there was information brought up during the course of the investigation which gave us concerns over the appropriateness of the management and oversight of EMS."

    Long also said he wanted to remove Moynihan during the investigation so county staff can determine "the extent of the harassment." The investigation could be complete in a matter of days, he said.

    DeSouza said he has turned in paperwork telling his side of the story to county staff, but he declined to discuss the matter further.

    Moynihan denied any wrongdoing and said he hopes to return to work as soon as possible. He also expressed frustration that the complaint was coming to light before the investigation was finished. Local news organizations received tips about the suspensions.

    "This is supposed to be a confidential investigation, and this is how the county handles its confidentiality," he said. "You just feel like your reputation is being smeared."

    Long said he answered basic questions about the suspensions "because people know this is taking place, and we want people to know exactly what's going on. We want people to know EMS service is not going to be affected by this."

    Moynihan also declined to comment on the nature of the allegation, but he said DeSouza's job performance has been exemplary.

    DeSouza coordinates the delivery of EMS educational programs to schools and neighborhood groups. In recent weeks, he has taken a new remote-controlled ambulance character named "Leon Lifesaver" to public events. He also coordinates staffing for special events such as football games.

    Both Moynihan and DeSouza joined the ambulance service in late 2003, weeks before the county took it over from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Before joining the county, Moynihan was chief administrative officer for the Pensacola-based Lifeguard Ambulance Service. He earns $84,800 a year.

    DeSouza's resume states that he worked at TMH as a paramedic from 1984 until the time he joined the county. He graduated from Coral Gables High School and earned a criminology degree at Florida State University. He earns $55,307 a year.

    Copyright, Tallahassee Democrat
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    I was thinking about applying to Leon County EMS until I heard about this heppening. I think I will wait a litte while longer until all of this stuff blows over. It has the potential to turn real ugly, including the 2 people being fired, but I don't think there's much to it. Hopefully they can get things straightened out in a timely fashion.
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    I cant beleive this is "heppening" again
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Just a quick update on the situation:

    Both individuals have been fired. There is no article to post as of now, but hopefully I will have more in the morning.
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    Dan Moynihan, chief of Leon County's Emergency Medical Services, and Maj. Michael DeSouza, a public-information officer, have been fired in the wake of sexual-harassment allegations by a female employee.

    On Wednesday, County Administrator Parwez Alam asked Moynihan and DeSouza to resign or face termination after a county investigation into the harassment complaint found that DeSouza engaged in inappropriate comments and behavior.

    The investigation also found that Moynihan fostered a work environment where off-color jokes, teasing and innuendo were common occurrences.
    "It is my determination that at this point it would be better for the EMS system and the county organization that Dan is not employed by the county," Alam said after meeting with ambulance personnel Wednesday.

    Both men were fired by the end of the day and were expected to turn in their county vehicles and equipment. DeSouza, who coordinated EMS educational programs, could not be reached for comment. Moynihan, meanwhile, filed his own complaint against the county with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

    The shake-up at the county's EMS division was sparked by a Feb. 9 complaint by paramedic Aimee Moore. Moore told county staff that DeSouza, 45, had been harassing her since she started working with the county and "trying to get her to sleep with him," according to the investigative report.

    In a separate memo prepared by county Human Resources Director Lillian Bennett, several EMS employees interviewed by county staff also suggested that Moynihan, 45, was engaged in an inappropriately close relationship with a female subordinate.

    The memo characterized the relationship as "unusual" but went no further. Both Moynihan and the woman denied the relationship was romantic. Bennett has recommended that the female employee be transferred to another location.

    Work environment 'hostile'

    The county report concluded that DeSouza engaged in behaviors that were pervasive, such as inappropriate language, touching, joking and invasion of personal space. It said such behavior effectively created a "hostile, intimidating and adverse work environment" for Moore.

    "Maj. DeSouza utilized his position as field operations supervisor to posture himself to work alone with the complainant, use his influence to recommend promotion of the complainant to the field training officer program ahead of more qualified employees, and encouraged the complainant to accept a different shift when there was no business necessity to do so," the report states.

    "Chief Moynihan was aware of some of the inappropriate language and did not take prudent and/or appropriate action(s) to address the behavior," the report continued.

    The former EMS chief declined to comment and referred questions to his attorney, Marie Mattox, who denied any wrongdoing on Moynihan's part. Mattox said the county is retaliating against Moynihan for filing a whistle-blower complaint against Senior Assistant County Attorney Patrick Kinni.

    Moynihan, in his complaint with FCHR, alleged Kinni pressured him to hire Kinni's wife for a position at EMS and to buy Kinni's home in Killearn. Mattox said the county suspended Moynihan on Feb. 17, two hours after he wrote a letter to Alam detailing the allegations against Kinni.

    "That is why we believe he was fired," Mattox said. "This was all contrived after they received their whistle-blower disclosures."

    County Attorney Herb Thiele said he has asked Kinni to respond in writing to Moynihan's allegations. Kinni declined to comment because of the FCHR investigation.

    Both Moynihan and DeSouza were hired in late 2003 as the county was beginning to take over ambulance service from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Moynihan, who earned $84,800 a year, was credited with helping devise the current ambulance system, which uses roving ambulances instead of fixed posts. DeSouza earned $55,300 a year.

    DeSouza: Just joking around

    Moore, the paramedic, detailed 32 allegations involving DeSouza; the investigative report substantiated or partially substantiated 26 of them.

    Moore accused DeSouza of making comments about the fit of her clothes, asking about her personal life and saying, "You look good enough to eat." She also said he asked her to sit in his lap and made raunchy comments about her sex life.

    DeSouza denied making some of the comments and said others were made in jest. He also denied commenting about Moore's breasts after brushing a bug off her shirt.

    Moore also accused DeSouza of brushing his hand across her rear end on one occasion and placing his hand on her and moving it toward her breasts on another. She said that one day when she was in the narcotics supply room, DeSouza came in and pulled up her belt, giving her a "wedgie." DeSouza responded to the allegation by saying he might have done that in a "joking way."

    The report concluded by recommending that DeSouza be fired for violating the county's workplace harassment policy and that "appropriate administrative action" be taken against Moynihan for failing to enforce the county's policies on harassment.

    Alam and other county officials met Wednesday with EMS workers to discuss the firings and reassure them that the ambulance service will continue providing top-notch service. Deputy Chief Chad Abrams has been appointed acting chief while a search begins to find Moynihan's permanent successor.

    "We are going to continue as a team," Alam said. "This is over. We're going to find the best chief we can find."

    Copyright, the Tallahassee Democrat

    LEON COUNTY WORKPLACE HARASSMENT POLICY

    "... Harassment consists of unsolicited, offensive or retaliatory behavior based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, ancestry, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation or an employee's exercise of their constitutional or statutory rights. Sexual harassment consists of unsolicited, offensive behavior involving sexual overtures or conduct, either verbal or physical. Neither harassment nor sexual harassment refer to occasional comments of a socially acceptable nature to a reasonable person. Harassment refers to behavior that is not welcome, that is personally offensive, that lowers morale, and that, therefore, interferes with the work environment."

    Source: Leon County employee manual
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