1. #1
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    Thumbs down Firefighter to lose job for marrying captain's daughter

    Rock Hill firefighter to lose job for marrying captain's daughter
    Ya gotta be kidding?!!
    By JULIE HALENAR
    Associated Press Writer
    ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) - With his June 18 wedding date fast
    approaching, a Rock Hill firefighter is challenging a city policy
    that would boot him from his job for marrying the daughter of
    another firefighter.
    Matt Cooper, 25, a Rock Hill firefighter since 2003, plans to
    marry 21-year-old salon manager Brooke Lowery, the daughter of
    Herbie Lowery, the captain at another Rock Hill station.
    Having a fireman as a father-in-law would violate a 22-year-old
    city policy that prohibits employing two family members in the same
    department. The city said it plans to enforce the rule.
    "I love the fire department and I love her and I don't want to
    lose either of them," Cooper said Wednesday to reporters as his
    bride and her father looked on.
    The city, claiming its rules are in line with state policy and
    other policies nationwide, will give Cooper a month after his
    wedding to find another job. Cooper said Wednesday he has not
    decided if he will take legal action to stay on the job.
    "The policies are put into place in what we feel best works for
    the city of Rock Hill," Fire Chief Mike Blackmon said. "We just
    can't change policies every time someone walks in there thinking
    they disagree with it."
    The policy, which Cooper signed when he was hired and was
    reminded of throughout the courtship, was written to curb nepotism
    and create a diverse and equal working environment, city officials
    said. With only about 100 firefighters in the city, Cooper and
    Lowery would work together on a regular basis, Blackmon said.
    But Cooper believes his relationship with Herbie Lowery will
    only make him a better firefighter in a profession that is built on
    family.
    While the city has offered to transfer him to another
    department, Cooper says he wants to remain a fireman, a position he
    has admired from an early age, watching his father, who also is a
    fire department captain in Ohio. He hopes one day to have a child
    who becomes a firefighter too.
    "I'm dedicated to my job," Cooper said. "I'm following in my
    father's footsteps because that's what I know."
    Cooper has the backing of the International Association of Fire
    Fighters and his pastor, Joseph James of India Hook Methodist
    Church.
    "They are going to let go of a good firefighter because he's
    fallen in love with who they consider to be the wrong person,"
    said James, who is marrying the couple. "Most couples are planning
    receptions and what the wedding cake is going to be like, and
    they're trying to plan what happens if this happens."
    Brooke Lowery is ready to walk down the aisle and enjoy a
    honeymoon in Mexico, but cannot keep from stressing out about what
    is going to happen to Cooper's job.
    "We're ready to go, we just need to get married," she said
    calmly despite the stresses of her large wedding. More than 200
    people are expected to attend, and the whole fire department also
    is invited.
    "No matter what he's going to be a firefighter," Lowery said.
    The couple and others just hope the city will change its policy.
    "It's in his blood, it's his calling," James said. "Now what
    he's being asked to do is to choose between two of his greatest
    loves of life - the calling of his career, of the thing that's in
    his blood, that's in his family tradition and the love of his life.
    "He's going to marry Brooke. Why does he need to be punished
    for that?"

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Must be the only fire department out there that has no nepotism.

    I understand where the city is coming from, but what is different from potential nepotism problems vs. an officer who favors a really good friend of his on the same company or shift?
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    Yep, Nepotism can be a real pain in the backside when it comes to hiring people. Shortly after I resigned my job with the City Fire Department as a fulltime FF/EMT in March of this year, I got an email from the Fire Service Coordinator for Ascension Parish. He was forwarding a Job announcment which read:
    ------
    East Iberville FD job openings
    One full time and 4 part time positions available.
    $8.00 an hour
    Firefighter I
    1st Responder or above
    Haz-Mat Operations (will consider Awareness)
    Contact Chief Floyd Sanchez for more information.
    -------
    Well, I knew that the fulltime slot he was hiring for was the one I left open when I resigned. I made a couple of phone calls and found out that someone had complained to the State Ethics Board about the nepotism in the paid department and the Chief was forced to lay off all of his family members he had on the payroll who had been working as Part time FFs.
    Due to budget problems he hasn't filled all the positions but he hired one person from the volunteer pool (one who had attended FF1 classes in a neighboring district but had never taken the final exam required to get his FF1 certification) and another person from outside of the department. Both work part time for the City fire department now.
    So, the lesson here is, if you become Chief of a FD and need to hire FFs to man your station - Don't hire family.
    Steve
    EMT/Security Officer

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    where I understand the city's policy, this doesn't seem like nepotism. HIRING a relative is one thing. Becoming a relative while already employed is another. He was okay when he was hired. Could people in this situation be grandfathered? Just wondering.
    PAJ

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    Thumbs down What the hell kind of backwoods hillbilly BS is this????

    RUN! DON'T WALK TO THE NEAREST LABOR ATTORNEYS OFFICE!!! CALL THE ACLU!!!!

    Do these people have any idea, how many Fire Departments out there have all kinds of "family connections" within the ranks? Look at FDNY for example- I know of one family, where the Grandfather is a Deputy Chief, the Father is a Battallion, one son is a Lieut, and two other sons are firefighters! One of the son's wives is a headquarters non-uniformed rank......How about Philly? I know of at least 2 families that have multiple members through the ranks, one of which being a Deputy............
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    The policy, which Cooper signed when he was hired and was reminded of throughout the courtship
    You play by the rules or you play somewhere else. Don't like the rules, change them. Someone tell me how breaking this rule is ok and yet breaking the "beard" rule is not?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    And yet again I find myself agreeing with Bones.
    If he knew the rules there is nothing to discuss.
    You dont break the rule then try and get it changed.
    Besides Marriage is the leading cause of DIVORCE.

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    Default The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe..Frank Zappa

    The city, claiming its rules are in line with state policy and
    other policies nationwide, will give Cooper a month after his
    wedding to find another job. Cooper said Wednesday he has not
    decided if he will take legal action to stay on the job.
    "The policies are put into place in what we feel best works for
    the city of Rock Hill," Fire Chief Mike Blackmon said. "We just
    can't change policies every time someone walks in there thinking
    they disagree with it."
    The policy, which Cooper signed when he was hired and was
    reminded of throughout the courtship, was written to curb nepotism
    and create a diverse and equal working environment, city officials
    said. With only about 100 firefighters in the city, Cooper and
    Lowery would work together on a regular basis, Blackmon said.
    But Cooper believes his relationship with Herbie Lowery will
    only make him a better firefighter in a profession that is built on
    family.



    Ah...the diversity issue rears it's ugly little head.

    I would like to see the list of the "nationwide list" of communities the city of Rock Hill is using to justify this bullscat rule.

    Anybody want to venture a guess the real reason? I think that someone wanted their child to get on the job in a City Department and that person didn't "fit" with political administration in power at the time, so the rule was put in place to screw someone.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 06-09-2005 at 11:41 PM.
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    I can see both sides of it....... It's a BS rule...... But he also knew about it when he got hired........ I'd push the wedding back and try to get it changed........ Or who says HR needs to know he got married???? I wouldn't want to be in his shoes...... And he's from our neck of the woods, too!
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    Well everyone is saying "he knew about it when he was hired...... He signed the contract....." blah blah blah

    I bet when he was hired AND when he signed the contract he didn't know his Captain's daughter, I bet he didn't PLAN on falling in love with her.......

    How many of you "planned" who you'd fall in love with? How many of you are married/engaged to/ or otherwise involved with a person who is exactly who you envisioned yourself with (except for Bou he seems to have a perfect life hehehe)? How many of you are exactly where you thought you'd be at this point in your life? How many of you have never had life toss you a curve ball?

    My point is life is never what we plan it, so should this guy lose his job because he fell in love with the Captain's daughter and she with him? I'm not sure of the concern that brought about this rule, but what about a shift swap? A station switch if there is more than one station? Surely there are solutions that don't involve this young man having to choose between his career and his wife........ I'd hate to be in either one of their shoes....... if he gives up his career, will he resent her...... if he gives up her, will he grow to hate his career and have regrets ? Nope, don't envy them their positions at all.

    I sincerely hope that this issue can be resolved in a manner that is beneficial to all involved.
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    Jenn, I don't diagree with you on the fact that he didn't plan it and things change. Like I said, I see both sides, but don't agree with the City's stance........
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
    We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
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    Never said I liked the rule or agreed with it. But the rule is and was there, either you follow it, pay for not following it, or get it changed.


    I wonder how many people agree to things just so they can get "the job" and then bitch and moan about it afterwards. Almost like selling their soul to the Devil.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    It may or not be a good rule, but what is the differance between this poicy and that of residency?
    It seems to me that if you sign off on the rules at your appointment, you live by the rules until the rules are changed.
    I am both interested and anxious to see if some on this board defend this policy of anti-nepotism with as much vigor as they did when the residency issue was discussed awhile back.
    Last edited by jasper45; 06-09-2005 at 10:03 PM.

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    What would be the policy if they were to co-habitate? If that circumstance would be acceptable, I'd say they're going to have a problem enforcing the policy. That's based on the apparent discrimination because of marital status, especially if South Carolina is one of 38 state where this kind of policy is forbidden by law. If for no other reason it could easily be seen as an invasion of common law privacy which is recognized in nearly every state to some degree or another.

    Unfortunately, it could take years trying to get his job back unless he can get a court to place a restraining order to prevent his termination pending the review of the case. If nothing else, it would be interesting. I'm glad it's not me.
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    Originally posted by Steamer
    What would be the policy if they were to co-habitate?

    Interesting viewpoint!! I never thought of that. I too wonder and am interested in knowing what their stance on this is.
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    Originally posted by Steamer
    What would be the policy if they were to co-habitate? If that circumstance would be acceptable

    It probably would not be an issue legally until they became married by common-law.
    From a legal viewpoint he would not be related to his fiance's dad until married, a point which would render the nepotism issue moot.
    I also am glad I'm not in his situation.

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    Originally posted by jasper45
    It probably would not be an issue legally until they became married by common-law.
    From a legal viewpoint he would not be related to his fiance's dad until married, a point which would render the nepotism issue moot.
    I also am glad I'm not in his situation.
    Agreed, but my point is that if they can't or won't treat people in the same living conditions as a married couple (sans marriage license), then the argument arises for discrimination based upon marital status. I've been looking but I seem to find legal references supporting that concept in every place but South Carolina.

    There was a case involving similar circumstances in the midwest that the court found just that to be the case and ordered the persons returned to work and a monetary award for damages. I can't seem to be able to find that one either without the specific citation.

    I wouldn't place much of a wager on something like this. There are way too many variables to allow the court to swing either way.
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    My dept would have to lay off a lot of guys if this were to happen here. Out of 102, we have several brother combinations, a husband and wife, in-laws, cousins, you name it we got it. I just figured it out, over half of the job has at least one relative on the job. In fact at my prior assignment, I was the only one who wasn't related to someone else on the job. A family tree? How about a wreath! This is a family oriented business, with the tradition being handed down from generation to generation. This city should look at their policy. It is very exclusive.
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    Originally posted by PuffyNPFD
    My dept would have to lay off a lot of guys if this were to happen here. Out of 102, we have several brother combinations, a husband and wife, in-laws, cousins, you name it we got it. I just figured it out, over half of the job has at least one relative on the job. In fact at my prior assignment, I was the only one who wasn't related to someone else on the job. A family tree? How about a wreath! This is a family oriented business, with the tradition being handed down from generation to generation. This city should look at their policy. It is very exclusive.
    Actually, Brother Puffy... it's rather discriminatory...

    On "da job" here.. we have had 5 father/son combos, 2 father/daughter combos, brothers, cousins, uncles, in laws and out laws... and we are a 71 person FD. My FD is civil service, so they all took the firefighter entrance exam, CPAT, medical and psych exams, passed and scored well enough to get hired.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 06-11-2005 at 06:19 PM.
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  20. #20
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    Thumbs down Stupid, Stupid, Stupid,......................

    A few folks have started out with "The Rules......." If you don't like a rule, Break it. Period. I'd get married, wait until the City forced the issue, then blow them out of the water with a lawsuit.
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    Hey -- aren't we all "Brothers?"

    If I was in this guy's shoes I'd get a petition going of all my fellow firefighters saying that we were all brothers so that if they let him go they better enforce their rules and let us ALL go.

    Just my two cents.

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    Woods, how do you expect to win a lawsuit against a rule that you agreed to? If you didn't agree with the rule, why did you agree to it? It's not like this just popped up out of nowhere, he knew about it, he was warned about it, they offered him something else, he chose to ignore it. Now he's trying to fight it at the last minute instead of well ahead of time.
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    Default Re: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid,......................

    Originally posted by hwoods
    A few folks have started out with "The Rules......." If you don't like a rule, Break it. Period. I'd get married, wait until the City forced the issue, then blow them out of the water with a lawsuit.

    I guess I would love to see this happen, trouble is, it'll only happen in fantasy land. If this were'nt the case, we would have no more residency.
    Time after time, in court after court it still stands. (residency)
    It's not a violation of your civil rights, you don't have the absolute right to be a firefighter, or to work for that city. If you agree to the rules and, sign off on them, at your appointment your bound by them. If you don't like the rules at hand, you can always find a new line of work, or a differant department who, at the very least doesn't have that rule.
    Trust me, we've argued almost every point to argue, and we've lost every time.
    The only real potential weak point is if it was proven the city /department did not enforce a particular rule equally.

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    Post Update

    Fellow firefighters ask Rock Hill to change nepotism rule

    ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) - About 20 firefighters showed up at a Rock
    Hill City Council meeting to ask members to change a policy on
    nepotism that could cost a firefighter his job.
    But council did not respond to the request Monday, and City
    Manager Carey Smith has said he has no plans to recommend a change
    or grant an exception to Matt Cooper, who is scheduled to marry the
    daughter of a fire captain this weekend.
    The marriage violates a Rock Hill policy prohibiting two family
    members from working in the same department.
    The International Association of Firefighters has taken up
    Cooper's cause. Dominick Barbera, president of the group's
    Southeast regional office, spoke to council members.
    "I look at firefighters as brothers and sisters. We don't want
    to be treated differently. We just want to be treated fairly. I ask
    you to bless this marriage and allow Matt to keep his job,"
    Barbera said.
    Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols thanked the group for coming, but
    none of the council members responded.
    Cooper, a Rock Hill firefighter since 2003, plans Saturday to
    marry 21-year-old salon manager Brooke Lowery, the daughter of
    Herbie Lowery, the captain at another Rock Hill station.
    After that, city officials said Cooper will have 30 days to find
    another job.
    After the meeting, Cooper, who sat on the front row with his
    fiancee, said he will think about becoming a firefighter at another
    department.
    "Maybe we'll end up somewhere else. It's all a toss-up,"
    Cooper said.
    One of the firefighters at the meeting to support Cooper said
    there is an easy solution.
    "Put 'em on different shifts. That's the simple solution to
    this whole thing," said Sgt. Tim Garner, a 10-year veteran of the
    Spartanburg Fire Department.
    But Rock Hill officials said that couldn't work because the
    city's 96-member department is so small that all firefighters
    regularly interact with each other, regardless of which shift or
    station they are assigned to.
    The city has promised to help Cooper find another job either
    with the city or at a different fire department.
    ---
    Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldonline.com

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Last edited by NJFFSA16; 06-14-2005 at 10:45 PM.
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    Default July 11th

    State ethics opinion on policy gives Rock Hill fireman new hope
    eroc-ph
    ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) - The State Ethics Commission says a city
    policy against nepotism that requires a Rock Hill firefighter to
    give up his job is stricter than what is required by state law.
    The commission said Monday that state nepotism laws do not
    require employees to be fired for marrying relatives of other
    employees, as long as the marriage didn't help them to get their
    jobs or earn promotions.
    Rock Hill's policy forbids relatives, including in-laws, from
    working in the same department.
    Cities commonly pass rules and policies that are stricter than
    state laws, said Herb Hayden, the executive director of the State
    Ethics Commission.
    The opinion does not affect the case of firefighter Matt Cooper,
    who married the daughter of a fire captain last month and expects
    to work his final day on Sunday. Still, Cooper said the ruling
    gives him hope.
    "It kind of makes me feel good about the whole situation," he
    said. "It just kind of clarifies things for me. Until that last
    day I walk out of here, I'll still have hope."
    City officials said Monday they stand by the policy, designed to
    prevent favoritism. "The city has very sound business reasons for
    continuing to administer its nepotism policy," City Manager Carey
    Smith said in a written statement.
    The International Association of Fire Fighters requested the
    ethics commission review.
    "The (ruling) shows that common sense and the value of family
    still means something in South Carolina," said Harold
    Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of
    Fire Fighters. "We hope the city will use this opportunity to
    review their enforcement of the anti-nepotism policy and allow
    firefighter Cooper to keep the job he loves."
    ---
    Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldonline.com

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Last edited by NJFFSA16; 07-12-2005 at 07:46 AM.
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