Union Dropping Grievance Over Firing Of Athens Fire Department Lieutenant

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A union has decided not to pursue a grievance it filed over an Athens Fire Department lieutenant who was fired after bringing an assault rifle to a city fire station and, in an unrelated incident, allegedly threatening a firefighter.

Lt. Charles Adams was fired April 8.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees had taken the firing through the city grievance process, and last month informed the city it was taking the matter to arbitration. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service had provided a list of potential arbitrators, but Athens Service-Safety Director Paula Horan Moseley said she was informed Tuesday that the union had decided not to go to arbitration.

John Johnson, a regional AFSCME representative, confirmed that the union is dropping the arbitration request. Johnson said legal counsel for the union reviewed the case and decided not to take it to arbitration.

The termination letter that Horan Moseley sent to Adams states he was being fired for behaviors that “exhibited disregard for work policy, inappropriate conduct and judgment while in the workplace and lack of respect for fellow co-workers.” The alleged behaviors cited in the letter included bringing a firearm into the workplace, conduct unbecoming, verbal degradation of a fellow firefighter and making threats of physical violence against a fellow firefighter.

The threat allegation was investigated by Athens police, who concluded that a criminal charge of aggravated menacing was not warranted.

According to police reports, the alleged threat was made to firefighter Curt Cline, the president of the AFSCME local at the fire department, after City Auditor Kathy Hecht sent an email that indicated Cline had brought an error to the attention of the auditor’s office. Three lieutenants, including Adams, were given too much retroactive pay after a new union contract was signed and were told they had to repay it, police reports indicate. Adams’ amount was $545.

Cline told police that Adams told him he felt like cutting Cline’s throat, but Adams told police he jokingly told Cline he felt like he could have wrung his neck and that they went to lunch after they talked. Adams denied making the throat-slitting remark, according to police reports.

The police reports indicated that Adams brought an AR-15 rifle to the fire station on a couple of occasions, but there is nothing in the reports to indicate it was in any way threatening. According to Horan Moseley, it violated city policy and the Ohio Revised Code.

According to a summary of a disciplinary hearing signed by Horan Moseley, Johnson argued that Adams is a firearm expert who teaches concealed carry and firearm safety, and that Adams had said the firing pin had been removed from the AR-15.

According to police reports, Cline told police that Adams initially brought in the AR-15 to show Cline after Cline indicated he was considering buying one. Johnson gave a similar account during the disciplinary hearing, according to Horan Moseley’s summary.

Documents seen by The Messenger do not go into detail about the alleged conduct unbecoming. In her decision upholding the firing, Horan Moseley commented: “Conduct unbecoming occurrences are not denied, but rather claims of ‘frat house’ environment reflect poor leadership of a ranking officer.”

Adams did not immediately return a phone message left by The Athens Messenger on Tuesday afternoon.