An article ran in the paper today: Roanoke Firefighter filing a grievance against the city over job transfer. The article speaks of how Mike Banks, a 31 year veteran and Captain of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department, has filed a grievance over comments made about his website during a cluster meeting with the Chiefs of the department. Captain Banks hosts a website: www.roanokerumormill.com. The site enables firefighters, or anyone for that matter, to post comments on a message board anonymously. The firefighters have left a wide array of comments over the past 2 years on the site. During a cluster meeting last year, Banks states that he was told to take the site down by the Chiefs. The cluster meetings are held at various stations in the City so that other Companies can meet up and the Chiefs can speak to more firefighters at once. I was at the meeting that Banks speaks of and worked for Banks at the time of the meeting. I also heard that the same remark was made at other cluster meetings that day.
I do not think there are too many firefighters in the City who would disagree that there is retaliation in our work place. I am not saying it happens every day, but it happens. Most of the firefighters are not willing to stand up for even the smallest things because of the fear of retaliation.
From Roanoke.com, Roanoke City management responds and comments from the judge considering the case–
“Absolutely not,” said acting Fire-EMS Chief David Hoback.
On June 26, City Manager Darlene Burcham ruled that Banks had no legal grounds for a grievance.
Judge Charlie Dorsey listened to evidence Monday but did not make any rulings. Attorneys on both sides said they will file written arguments within the next few weeks.
Dorsey said in the hearing that the city has no right to order Banks to take down the Web site, but also noted that rights of free speech and rights of the workplace “are not always completely separate.”
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