1. #1
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    Exclamation City fires married Firefighter

    City fires married firefighter
    by Matt Garfield of The Herald

    ROCK HILL- Rock Hill firefighter Matt Cooper is out of a job.

    A judge on Tuesday denied Cooper's request to keep working while his lawsuit against the city goes forward, clearing the way for Rock Hill officials to fire him immediately.

    Which they did. Fire Chief Mike Blackmon sent Cooper home soon after the ruling was issued.

    "It's not a good sign when they come out and tell you to take your gear off the truck," Cooper said afterward. "It's unbelievable it has come to this. Today is probably the worst day in my whole entire life."

    Read the rest of the story HERE...

    JUST so everyone is up to date... here are links to the entire line of stories. There are several things to look at here. Read away and post your opinions.

    - Fight Fires or get married 06-08-2005
    - Firefighters brethern show support 06-11-2005
    - State nepotism policy is the strictist 06-11-2005
    - Firefighters ask for policy change 06-14-2005
    - Firefighter weds, faces job loss 06-19-2005
    - Panels opinion favors firefighter 07-12-2005
    - Firefighter gets 10 more days 07-16-2005
    - Firefighter case heads back to court 7-21-2005
    - Firefighter to stay on job... for now 7-26-2005
    Last edited by sconfire; 07-27-2005 at 10:46 AM.
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    Thumbs down

    Not cool. I hate when tradition/un-willingness to change beats out common sense/intelligence. Sad day for that city...

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    thats just rediculous ! shame that they think family working together is a bad thing. its not like he recieved his job from nepatism.
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    Good thing they donít realize what brotherhood means or no firefighters would be working. This is a bunch of crap.
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    Mind now I am in agreeance with the idea that this is a @#^^%$& policy... however I am going to play devils advocate here.

    This is a bunch of crap.
    Several points to consider are:
    - FF Matt Cooper DID apply for the job knowing this was the policy.
    - FF Matt Cooper DID accept this job knowing this was the policy.
    - FF Matt Cooper was re-made aware of this policy before he married.
    - FF Matt Cooper did not accept the help of the chief to assist him in re-locating to another department.

    Now (reminding everyone I am playing devils advocate) IF HE knew this BEFORE he got hired and knew it WHEN he got hired... why should the city change their rules to suit him. He did not have an issue with it when he got hired... only after.

    JUST A REMINDER that I believe that this is an excessive policy.
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

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    Default Question...

    Originally posted by sconfire
    Mind now I am in agreeance with the idea that this is a @#^^%$& policy... however I am going to play devils advocate here.



    Several points to consider are:
    - FF Matt Cooper DID apply for the job knowing this was the policy.
    - FF Matt Cooper DID accept this job knowing this was the policy.
    - FF Matt Cooper was re-made aware of this policy before he married.
    - FF Matt Cooper did not accept the help of the chief to assist him in re-locating to another department.

    Now (reminding everyone I am playing devils advocate) IF HE knew this BEFORE he got hired and knew it WHEN he got hired... why should the city change their rules to suit him. He did not have an issue with it when he got hired... only after.

    JUST A REMINDER that I believe that this is an excessive policy.
    What would the city have done had they simply co-habitated?
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    What would the city have done had they simply co-habitated?
    What could they have done? They were not married? Thus the term "in-law" does not apply.

    There is not common law marriage statute in South Carolina anymore so I imagine the city could have done... nothing.
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    There can be just as much favoritism akin to nepotism in these "common-law" relationships, and I'm sure others have seen it. I have said before, and still maintain that if there is a difference in the way those couples are treated from the ones legally married, then he is being discriminated against because of marital status.

    With South Carolina being an "at will" state, it's going to probably be a journey to the State Supreme Court if he intends to challenge it. I'm not so sure they aren't doing him a favor in the long run by forcing him to look elsewhere for a career.
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    Default Re: Question...

    Originally posted by Steamer

    What would the city have done had they simply co-habitated?

    Once again, a great point. I know this point was brought up in another thread, but it does show a potential "loop-hole" in the policy.
    Please don't take me as blindly supporting policy, but if his job is anything remotely similar to mine, he did sign off on that particular policy, as well as all other departmental/city rules. Because of that signing off, and coupled with the fact they were put into place before he was hired, it may be difficult at best for him to go back to work in that particular department.
    You don't have a "right" to be a firefighter, nor to work for any city in particular. It is your choice to work for the city in which you work, you can always go and work in another place.
    Sounds crazy or far fetched? These are actual court rulings against us in our quest to have residency lifted. In my opinion, this policy is no more outlandish than being told where you can or can't live, or whether you can or can't wear a beard.
    Do I think his being fired is right or proper? Absolutely not, but I imagine he will have quite a fight to get his job back, if that is at all possible.

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    There can be just as much favoritism akin to nepotism in these "common-law" relationships, and I'm sure others have seen it.
    Absolutely!

    With South Carolina being an "at will" state, it's going to probably be a journey to the State Supreme Court if he intends to challenge it. I'm not so sure they aren't doing him a favor in the long run by forcing him to look elsewhere for a career.
    This also may be difficult. The State ethics panel, in a recent hearing on the matter, found in favor of Matt. Here is a clip of that story

    The commission says state nepotism laws don't require employees such as Cooper to be fired for marrying relatives of other employees -- as long as getting married didn't help them to get their jobs or earn promotions.

    Cooper, 25, worked as a Rock Hill firefighter for two years before getting married last month to Brooke Lowery, 21, the daughter of Capt. Herbie Lowery.

    City officials have said Cooper will be forced to leave the department for violating a city rule that forbids relatives, including in-laws, from working in the same department. The rule is designed to prevent favoritism.

    The opinion doesn't mean Rock Hill's policy is illegal, and it has no impact on the case, said Herb Hayden, the commission's executive director. It simply states that Rock Hill's rule goes beyond what state law requires.


    Please don't take me as blindly supporting policy, but if his job is anything remotely similar to mine, he did sign off on that particular policy, as well as all other departmental/city rules. Because of that signing off, and coupled with the fact they were put into place before he was hired, it may be difficult at best for him to go back to work in that particular department.
    My point exactley...
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    It's pretty sad how his own department won't even stand up for him against the city.....I'd say he'd be better off finding a better department to work in....

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    It's pretty sad how his own department won't even stand up for him against the city.....I'd say he'd be better off finding a better department to work in....
    The ranks have gone to bat for the guy. The Chief went out of his way to help him find another job in another department. Fact of the matter is "he knew this policy going INTO the job to begin with".

    If you read through the stories I think that the department as a whole went above and beyond trying to assist this guy.
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    While I understand the reaction to the events - I must state without any regret that if you go into a situation knowing the rules-and if you violate the rules-yes, even the excessive stupid ones, you are asking for trouble.

    SCONFIRE is correct in his laying out the logic of the case. While it is unfortunate that Matt was dismissed he brought it upon himself. Me? I would have looked for another department - or thought twice before signing.

    This is like the idiocy we witness in professional sport - "Yeah I signed the contract but now I don't like it." Really - then you are a dumba##.

    This is the best thing that could have happened to Matt - he can now move forward and he has shown that city policy is excessive - but he signed it. Period.
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    A backward City and State! All city employees should put in their papers to resign as a protest!

    What a crock of royal hose dung!


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    A backward City and State!
    Whoa!
    Last edited by JackTee09; 07-27-2005 at 02:44 PM.
    Jacktee

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    Originally posted by sconfire


    The ranks have gone to bat for the guy. The Chief went out of his way to help him find another job in another department. Fact of the matter is "he knew this policy going INTO the job to begin with".

    If you read through the stories I think that the department as a whole went above and beyond trying to assist this guy.
    Ah, thanks for the correction, I retract my statement. I guess even the chief has to listen to the city, as much as it may suck. Well, I hope this city get's their asses in gear and changes the stupid ancient law.

    Oh, and I wasn't reading the stories because the whole thing annoyed me so much...

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    Oh, and I wasn't reading the stories because the whole thing annoyed me so much...
    It is a very annoying issue. I imagine it came up from a favoritism issue in the past and this was their way of "solving" the problem. This is only speculation on my part.
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    WOW, I am surprised by this action. Well, not really it is SC, I am not surprised at all. I am from SC and they do a lot of backwards things. Trying to stop a relationship or someone that works at a job from having one is wrong. Nobody can predict what is going to happen after they take the job. However.......

    SCONFIRE, you and I are about to get crushed we will stick together just like if Iwere back home buddy..........

    The judge cannot go on personal feeling and what he thinks is right or wrong. No matter how much we all disagree with it, they seem to have a very good case. The city is wrong in my opinion, but they are right by the law. I feel for the guy and I wish it would have turned out better for him, but SConFire is right. He new about this stuff before he got married, not trying to take that away from him, but he did. He was also given several oppurtunities to leave under good terms and did not. I do not blame him, I would have stayed and fought too.
    Those of us who know how SC fd's work they are filled with politics and such. Favoritism is huge in the south, not what you know but who you know, type thing. It is wrong, but this is the way that they have been operating for centuries down there. Trust me I know, I live there. Wrong, right or indifferent, we can only hope that the federal gov. will step in to do something, not for Mr. Cook, but for everyone thatthis clause effects. Two, as brother ff's, instead of posting negatives about his tragic defeat, why does not someone who is state side and in the local area or state, see if they have any openings to guide him too. He may have to relocate, but hey, it is a job. I also know that many ff's have second and third jobs with some of them owning thier own buisnesses, why do not some of these people step to the plate and offer the guy something to he can feed his family? I guess what I am trying to say is we should show support for him besides just posting on a thread that we disagree with thte decsion, that is all. I wish the guy best of luck and if i were home I would do what I could but, unfortunatly, I am not. Maybe when I come home and things are still the same I will do what I can.
    A brotherhood is more than just saying you disagree, a brotherhood is for support and guidence as well!!! Food for thought..........

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    "They say Cooper agreed to the policy in writing when he was hired two years ago and that they have reminded him of it several times since he began dating Lowery. As a courtesy, they plan to give Cooper 30 days to find another job before his termination takes effect." -- As quoted from the 6/11 article posted on the first post.


    He fell in love with her AFTER he took the job. If there was a switch that could turn off and on who you had feelings for i'd be all for it, but since there isn't, the city should join the rest of us in this millenium and change their stupid outdated laws. Or atleast allow an exception.

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    or, back when he fell in love and thought about getting married, he could have started the process to try and change the rule then instead of hoping it would be ignored or an exception made. You know, "proactive" as opposed to "reactive".
    "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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    He fell in love with her AFTER he took the job. If there was a switch that could turn off and on who you had feelings for i'd be all for it, but since there isn't, the city should join the rest of us in this millenium and change their stupid outdated laws. Or atleast allow an exception.
    You make one exception, then it opens the floodgates for everyone else. This should have been taken care of PRIOR to him getting married.

    or, back when he fell in love and thought about getting married, he could have started the process to try and change the rule then instead of hoping it would be ignored or an exception made. You know, "proactive" as opposed to "reactive".
    touche'
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    If the City of New York, or Philadelphia had this utterly dumb-***, back-asswoods hick trailer park rule, half of each Fire Department would have to resign.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    If the City of New York, or Philadelphia had this utterly dumb-***, back-asswoods hick trailer park rule, half of each Fire Department would have to resign.
    As would most of the departments in South Carolina... mine included! I can understand the need for a nepotism rule... to an extent. However I am sure there are other measures you can put into place to combat the problems.
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

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    "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
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    As would most of the departments in South Carolina... mine included! I can understand the need for a nepotism rule... to an extent. However I am sure there are other measures you can put into place to combat the problems.
    Those "other measures" would be an unbiased, civil service system where all hiring and promotions (as well as disipline and grievences) were handled through merit, fitness, due process and strict rules.

    My view is that many of these Departments have these nepotism rules becasue they were too lazy (or stupid) to figure out how to develop such measures to prevent undue influence on the above mentioned situations.

    Most Chiefs in these smaller departments that I'm familar with are too absorbed with themselves and their ability to hire and promote whomever they like instead of setting forth objective criteria for promotions and hiring. They must protect thier power and fiefdom!

    And as has been said over half of my Dept(And most others that I'm aware of) would have to retire or resign immediately with this absurd rule.

    Guys I work with have Brothers, Uncles, Fathers, Sons, Cousins..etc. on the job. The Chief of Department has 2 sons, and a few nephews on the job that I'm aware of.

    I know a few guys who on their fathers last day on the job got to work their last tour with them. What is wrong with that? Nothing.

    All of this nonsense stems from "big fish" in "little bowls" who aren't very big thinkers and are too shortsighted to see the benefits of not having such nepotism rules.

    FTM-PTB

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    My view is that many of these Departments have these nepotism rules becasue they were too lazy (or stupid) to figure out how to develop such measures to prevent undue influence on the above mentioned situations.
    That could be one view. Mind you this is a very remote issue in South Carolina. Most of the departments... including mine... have brothers and sons and fathers on the job. I have to agree with you on the fact of the "lazy blanket" issue of the nepotism rule.

    Seems like it was an easy way out to solve a problem.
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