Huber Heights Fire Fighter Protected by City Charter



HUBER HEIGHTS FIRE FIGHTER PROTECTED

UNDER CIVIL SERVICE PROVISIONS OF CHARTER

By

Henry A. Arnett

Livorno and Arnett Co., LPA

1335 Dublin Road, Suite 108-B

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Telephone: 614-224-7771

The Montgomery County Court of Appeals has upheld the civil service rights of a Huber Heights firefighter. The Court ruled that Johnny Holloway, Jr., was entitled to a civil service hearing when he was terminated from his position as a Battalion Chief for the Huber Heights Fire Division.

Holloway started with the Huber Heights Fire Division in October, 1980, and was promoted to the position of fire lieutenant in 1989. He took an open competitive examination for the position of Battalion Chief and was ranked as the number one candidate on the eligibility list for that position. He was promoted to the position of Battalion Chief in 2001.

On November 23, 2008, Holloway was terminated by the City Manager. No reasons for the termination were expressed in the letter of termination. No claim was made that Holloway did anything wrong or was guilty of any conduct or actions that would justify any disciplinary action.

Holloway appealed his termination to the Personnel Appeals Board. However, the City took the position that a 2006 ordinance changed his status to that of an “exempt” employee who did not have a right to appeal to the Personnel Appeals Board. No hearing was scheduled for Holloway’s appeal.

Holloway filed an action to compel the Personnel Appeals Board to hear his case. He alleged that, as a Battalion Chief, he was in a nonexempt position and, pursuant to the City Charter, had the right to appeal any termination of his employment to the Personnel Appeals Board.

Holloway was unsuccessful at the Common Pleas Court. That Court upheld the City’s refusal to hear Holloway’s appeal. However, on October 1, 2010, the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court, holding that Holloway was indeed protected by the City’s charter and civil service laws and that he had the right to contest his termination by appealing to the Personnel Appeals Board. This is an important ruling, because it tells city councils and administrators that they cannot simply ignore their employees’ civil service rights — those rights must be respected and honored.