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:
- Intervene on behalf of a represented employee outside of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
- Launching his own investigation without the knowledge of Chief Schmitt or Chief Glover
- Overruling the Chief's disciplinary action in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Eric Olson has no integrity. He does not stand for that which is right.
- Eric Olson did not tell the truth nor ensure that the truth is known. Eric Olson lied.
- Eric Olson did not embrace fairness in his actions.