Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sisson Unilaterally Overruled Chief Schmitt's Employee Action And Violated Documented Grievance Policy

In a recent post, I detailed the objection of Chief Schmitt to an investigation conducted by City HR Director Ed Sisson without his or Chief Glover's knowledge.  The email he sent to Olson objecting was followed by a personal visit from Olson stating that "no investigation was done"

On Thursday December 17, 2015, at 11:15 am, Chief Matt Schmitt emailed City Administrator Eric Olson stating:

"Eric: I learned Tuesday (December 15) from a fire department employee that was directed to contact me by the HR Director that an investigation has been conducted by the HR department including interviews with fire department employees as part of the investigation. I myself nor the Deputy Chief have any knowledge or have been advised of said investigation.  Please advise."

In response to a public records request concerning documents leading up to the Schmitt/Olson exchange, I have received supporting documents which indicate that not only did Sisson conduct an investigation without notifying the Chief, he reversed a human resource action that Schmitt had approved and forwarded to Sisson for implementaion.

September 15, 2015 - Chief Matt Schmitt takes disciplinary action against one of his department's employees, a firefighter.  The disciplinary action form indicates the employee is part of a Collective Bargaining Unit, namely the Fire Lieutenants.

A personnel action form PF-501 is signed by Schmitt and forwarded to HR Director Sisson as being effective September 14, 2015.

Another form PF803CB is also completed for the disciplinary action. It is signed by Schmitt and the employee acknowledging receipt of the document.

The acknowledgement states:
Note to employee: Because you are a member of a collective bargaining unit, if you choose to appeal or grieve this disciplinary action, your grievance and/or appellate process must follow the terms of the bargaining agreement.  Unless an appeal or grievance is properly made, this disciplinary action stands confirmed without any further action.

The City's own form states that whether a member of a collective bargaining unit is a member of the Union or not, the grievance procedures are the same for all members of the collective bargaining unit.

Under the IAFF Collective Bargaining Agreement there are required procedures for employees wishing to challenge or grieve an employment action.

STEP 2. If the grievance is not resolved in Step 1, the Union may, within ten (10) calendar days of the alleged violation, reduce the grievance to writing on a grievance form and present it to the Fire Chief. The grievance form shall specify the particular Article, Section and provision of this Agreement alleged to have been violated, shall contain a complete and detailed statement of the facts upon which the grievance is based, including date of occurrence, shall specify the proposed remedy, shall be signed and dated by the employee or (if applicable) by his Union representative. Grievances submitted which do not contain the above information shall be considered null and void. Upon receipt of the grievance, the Chief or his designee shall record the time and date of receipt, shall consider the written grievance, shall investigate the same to the extent he chooses, and shall resolve or deny the grievance within ten (10) calendar days.


No appeal or grievance document is in the employee file.  No documentation of the employee following the required IAFF contract procedure is in the file. No documentation of the employee contacting the HR Director is in the file nor the discussions, evidence presented or the investigation performed by the HR Administrator surrounding the grievance of the discipline.

Furthermore, and most troubling, there is indisputable documentation of the City HR Director going outside the negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement with the IAFF to:
  1. Intervene on behalf of a represented employee outside of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  2. Launching his own investigation without the knowledge of Chief Schmitt or Chief Glover
  3. Overruling the Chief's disciplinary action in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement
The employee that was disciplined had initially written a complaint regarding actions he alleged that the Fire Department deemed not related to City business and thus was inappropriate to be made within the work environment.  The employee wrote in a memo included in his file that:

My complaint was not investigated initially, but was subsequently investigated by the Human Resources Department after my [discipline].  I along with another firefighter, was able to submit evidence to the Human Resources Administrator to back up the claims made by the complaint timeline.  On December 18, 2015, three months into my [discipline], I met with the fire chief and was made aware that the decision to [discipline] me for filing a complaint was overturned by the Human Resources Administrator.  

Facts above which are clear and irrefutable:
  1. The City Human Resources Administrator failed to follow the grievance processes detailed in the IAFF Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated by the City and identified in the Form PF803CB signed by the employee.
  2. The City Human Resources Administrator failed to follow the Firefighter Bill of Rights as detailed in the Florida Statutes in investigating a complaint against a fire department employee. Neither Chief Schmitt nor Chief Glover were ever notified of a complaint nor an investigation as required under the Firefighter Bill of Rights.
  3. The City Human Resources Administrator exceeded his authority and violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement in circumventing the contractual process and reversing the discipline issued by the Chief in accordance with the Bargaining Agreement in that:
    • The City Human Resources Administrator did not follow the appropriate procedures surrounding the grievance process in the contract as stated in the City's own PF803CB Form.
    • All personnel actions subsequent to the discipline of the protected employee should have been conducted in accordance with the established Collective Bargaining Agreement as noted on the Form PF803CB.
The actions of the City Human Resources Administrator appear to have violated a City Collective Bargaining Agreement, violated the City's Policy for Grievances noted on the Form PF803CB, subjected the City to potential issues with the Union, circumvented the Fire Department's documented processes and procedures, violated the contractual rights of the disciplined employee, and caused unnecessary damage to reputation of the City as a Collective Bargaining partner.

Ed Sisson is terrible at his job.
Ed Sisson should be terminated.

Eric Olson tried to cover this matter up rather than disciplining Ed Sisson for this illegal actions under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and City's documented Grievance Policy.
Transparency is a commitment (window dressing) of Mayor Hayward to the Citizens.
Eric Olson violated his commitment.

In my opinion, 
  1. Eric Olson has no integrity.  He does not stand for that which is right.
  2. Eric Olson did not tell the truth nor ensure that the truth is known.  Eric Olson lied.
  3. Eric Olson did not embrace fairness in his actions.
Eric Olson should be terminated.


Anonymous said...

This is seriously becoming more bizarre each day. The city must have the most corrupt, inept, incompetent group of HR "professionals" in the history of mankind. It seems that Mr. Ed, the talking horses ass, never misses an opportunity to do the wrong thing and takes full advantage whenever an opportunity comes to screw something up. He needs to be placed inside of a big reinforced box to be shipped back to where ever he came from. Geesh!

Anonymous said...

Once again, wrong doing is uncovered at City Hall, and instead of fixing the problem, Eric Olson protects the guilty and launches an attack on the persons who shined the light on the problem. The innocent are crucified, their good names drug through the press and the Mayor has nothing to say about it. The seventh floor needs to be cleaned out by the State's Attorney's office immediately.

George Hawthorne said...

The real issue is the impunity from the Mayor, that Eric Olson and Edward Sisson operate in this incident and a string of others. See the problem is that they were "incompetent" the reality is the were and are emboldened to act in this manner.

Do you think they are really sloppy or just so used to doing it and NOT BEING CAUGHT that this was "business as usual?"

However, either "excuse" that they come up with will not reconcile with an increasingly "bad facts" coming out "daily" from every "angle" ALL pointing to damages in a major lawsuit against the City. This is not good for "business or people."

Remember, this is just the latest of a "truckload of boxes" that have exited City Hall and those qualified, competent and experienced "people" left mysteriously. This is just the first time anyone really "peeked under the hood" of this sputtering engine.

Hold the Mayor accountable RECALL him because of the recurring pattern of malfeasance, misfeasance neglect of duty and incompetence - all of each are recall offenses.

Anonymous said...

George is absolutely right. This continues because the mayor not only tolerates unethical & incompetent behavior, he demands it.

Anonymous said...

September 15, 2015 - Chief Matt Schmitt takes disciplinary action against one of his department's employees, a firefighter.
The employee that was disciplined had initially written a complaint regarding actions he alleged that the Fire Department deemed not related to City business and thus was inappropriate to be made within the work environment.
On December 18, 2015, three months into my [discipline], I met with the fire chief and was made aware that the decision to [discipline] me for filing a complaint was overturned by the Human Resources Administrator.
I want to ask if I read this correctly. I read it 3 times... Sisson reversed the discipline action placed on the employee what was a result of the employee filing a claim? I understand everything being said in the post here and the steps do not appear to be followed but if I read this right .... he reversed an action that was taken that sounds like was in retaliation for filing the claim. Maybe I am reading this incorrectly?
Does not excuse for not following the rules but seems like it was the right call by Sisson. The other question is what took so long to make that call? Three months into the discipline action. Why was in not discussed prior to putting him/her on the disciplinary action to begin with? I would think that a disciplinary action should be discussed with HR prior to it happening not after.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like modern day "Boys in the Hoods" White hoods that is!

Speaking of not giving Hayward a pass, let us not forget that race discrimination was the genesis of it all. Glover filed an EEOC complaint because he claimed his pay was less than whites in the same position. Apparently there was no investigation at all into that matter which means Hayward does not have a problem with whites being paid more than blacks in the same position. This is one reason disparity studies are so bogus and a waste of time and money. There is no real effort to ensure equality.

Because Schmitt spoke up about the discriminatory practice, he was targeted too. Please don't overlook the fact that the accusers are on trial and have to prove that they have done nothing wrong but will still ultimately be terminated. Meanwhile, the accused continue to show up for work every day unchallenged and emboldened to continue their bigotry, discriminatory practices, and terrorizing the other city employees. They move forward unabated, even though they have publicly lied about the investigation, altered the appeals process, violated both chief's rights, violated state law, circumvented processes and behaved completely unethically.

So don't be fooled by Hayward's "I have black friends" BS or the "we have a black police chief" rhetoric (Most people know Hayward NEVER wanted that to happen)Chip just pulled a fast one on him.

Hayward would never support an investigation into race discrimination yet he has supported this all out investigation into _________? Does anybody really know? Why investigate discrimination when he can simply ride in the next MLK Parade, talk about the Chappie James museum, lie about who he used to play youth baseball with, or better yet, just show up on Sunday at one of his "favorite" black congregations for an hour of good old fashioned exploitation. Wake up black people!

Olson categorically denied that race is an issue in any of this so it must be true? Based on his inability to tell the truth on even the most trivial matters, I believe he is a categorical liar!

Sisson who hails from Prattville, AL (known for it's diversity - NOT!) seems to like getting rid of black folk. Ask some of the employees who work at city hall and some of those who used to. Sisson honed his skills and abilities on how to racially discriminate during his stint as an HR flunky in Duval County. Please look up the race discrimination lawsuits that have been filed and won by...wait for it...wait for guessed it none other than the Jacksonville Fire Department!

Could this be another coincidence? Did Hayward hire him to keep blacks in check? I can hardly wait to see what's revealed next.

Maybe the white hoods will be taken off soon for all to see...Systemic Racism in the Upside of Florida!

Mark Clabaugh said...

It amazes me the number of people complaining on every outlet they can, here, Ricks Blog (is should say, Propaganda), PNJ, the Pulse about the Mayor and operation of our City.

HOWEVER, no one sees the fact that it is the Charter that is so damaged, so out of whack, so weak, so poorly written that has allowed this garbage to flourish and not be fixed.

It is LONG PAST TIME to abolish this Charter as the dismal failure it is and FOREVER write it into the HISTORY OF PENSACOLA -- we are TOO CROOKED to have such a form of Government.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to Mark Clabaugh, the charter is not the problem. The problem is the weak, lazy, and incompetent city council that refuses to do the job they were hired to do. I was never in favor of the charter because it allows, and even encourages, the nepotism, cronyism, and corruption that we are witnessing in the Hayward administration. But let's face facts. Corruption was a big part of the previous city government as can be witnessed by that gigantic baseball stadium that sits on our waterfront property.

Please put the blame where it belongs. While Hayward was rewriting the charter to serve him better our city council was voting to cut its meetings back to once a month. Both the City Manager and Mayor forms of governments depend on the quality and integrity of the city officials that we elect to serve us. Why is that breaking down so badly in Pensacola?

Anonymous said...

Check out Rick's blog. He goes in depth about this issue. It appears that the employee misused the complaint process to seek retribution on matters that had nothing to do with the fire department.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous February 17, 2016 at 5:50

Have you not been keeping up with this craziness? The disciplinary action was not because of a "complaint" being filed. According to what I have read, the individual making the complaint tried to involve HR in something that was not an employment matter. A friend of mine that works at the department told me that the person who filed the complaint has been making slanderous statements about one of the Chiefs for a while now. None of the other firemen respect the guy and most feel he should have been demoted. I don't know all of the details but it sounds like there is some suspicion about him within the department.

Anonymous said...

It really is so interesting for race to be continually thrown about as the basis for this whole thing. If you've read the complaint by the fireman who's disciplinary action was overturned - it was based on one of these chiefs using his position to strong arm a lower-ranked employee. This was between 2 black men, one of who's bragged in our community about "bringing his people along with him". Ya know - when we see white guys doing that- it's called the good ol boy system of racism. But when our people do it - what - it's ok? It's allowed? It's encouraged? Or the guy who stands up and says "enough" is punished? That's just wrong. Stop with the hood references, because you're making light of every real act of racism that's occurred against our people.