Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Association Local 440
Policy and Procedures
Concerning Disciplinary Action
Purpose: It shall be an objective of this local to secure for its members, speedy redress of disciplinary grievances and to due process of any charges brought against them.
The Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Association Local 440 is committed to fairly and equally representing its members when they are faced with possible disciplinary action and / or when disciplinary or other action subject to appeal is taken against them.
Local members have the responsibility of understanding their rights and required procedures under the state civil service statutes and the collective bargaining agreement. Any questions concerning those rights and procedures should be brought to Local 440, either through a disciplinary representative or a board member.
Basic Points to Remember: When any disciplinary action such as suspension, promotional pass-over, or other matters subject to appeal is taken against a firefighter, that individual has the right to appeal such action to either the Civil Service Commission or to an Independent Third Party Hearing Examiner.
Deadlines and Requirements: The statutory time limit for filing an appeal is 10 days after the date such action was taken. These are calendar days, which mean Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays all count in computing the 10 days. Remember, you must file your appeal timely and it must be worded properly or you will forfeit your right of appeal.
To protect and insure member’s rights Local 440 has adopted the following procedures and policy.
1) As soon as any action is taken against you or if you are subject to an interview or investigation that might lead to possible disciplinary action you should immediately contact a union representative.
2) Local 440 will furnish you representation at all levels of any procedures, and will advise or recommend your best course of action, procedure and response.
3) If you appeal any action to either the Civil Service Commission or to a Hearing Examiner, Local 440 will furnish you with a competent and qualified representative of our choice at no cost to you. (Each member of course has the right to engage his own representative at the member’s own expense.)
ARTICLE VIII – LEGAL REMEDIES
Section 1. The President shall appoint, with the advice and consent of the Executive Board, a standing committee (Legal Aid Committee) to deal with all requests for the Association to assist with the financing of legal fees. The committee shall be composed of seven (7) members. This committee shall have at least one individual from each rank from Firefighter through Battalion Chief. The President shall also appoint an alternate to each of the seven (7) committee members. The alternate shall serve when the President deems a member of the committee to be involved or the person requesting the assistance is from the same battalion as the committee member. All cost associated with a 3rd party hearing examiner will be the responsibility of the member, unless prior approval from the Executive Board allows a member to go to the Legal Aid Committee.
Section 2. The committee shall be empowered to hear request for legal financial assistance from a member or members only when referred to the committee by the Executive Board or a vote of the membership. The committee shall further be empowered to grant whatever amount of legal financial assistance that they deem to be fair and equitable, or to refuse to grant any amount if they consider after investigation that it doesn’t merit the same.
Section 3. (a) The responsibility of making a Civil Service protest shall be the member’s to make within the statutory time involved, all protest to be made to the Civil Service Commission in writing, with a copy of the same to go to the Civil Service Director.
(b) A member making a request of the Committee shall be allowed to present any evidence and have any witness that he cares to exhibit, and any member who might wish to protest the same shall have the same privilege. All protests shall be made in writing, to the Chairman of the Committee. The Committee may also request written affidavits of any member making request of the Committee.
(c) All arguments for or against shall be made to the Committee as a whole while in a called session and not to an individual member of the Committee.
(d) The Committee may hear requests for assistance on promotional disputes, but may participate on a matching funds basis only, unless there is an overwhelming need to establish a legal precedent which would bring about a reform which this Local has been seeking.
Section 4. Any member who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Committee shall file notice of appeal to the membership with the Committee Chairman, whereupon the subject shall be placed on the agenda of the next regular meeting. In which case, the Committee shall be required to have a representative at both meetings and present the findings of the Committee to the membership, after which the appealing member shall be allowed to make his case. The Committee may rebut, and member may close debate. A majority vote of the members present and voting shall prevail. Failure of the member to appear at the next regular meeting shall constitute forfeiture of his right to appeal to the membership, except the President may, for cause, postpone the appeal to another meeting.
Explanations of Appeal Options
Commission Appeals: The Civil Service Commission consists of a three-member panel of Fort Worth residents who are appointed by the City Council. Under the Local Government Code, the Civil Service Commission is obligated and authorized to hear all disciplinary or other appeals of any firefighter or police officer covered by the act. This is a part of their duties and responsibility in enforcing the provisions of the state statute. There is no charge (cost) to the member on any appeal to the Civil Service Commission. The decision of the Commission is binding and enforced by law. However any unfavorable decision by the Civil Service Commission may be appealed by the firefighter to the District Court. The City cannot appeal a decision of the Commission. Local 440 is not obligated to support, finance, or furnish representation for any appeal to the courts. Any request concerning Local 440 involvement in an appeal to a District Court must be processed through procedures prescribed by the Constitution and By-Laws.
Hearing Examiner Appeals: A Hearing Examiner is an individual who has met certain qualifications in both education and practical experience and is a professional in dispute resolution. Unlike the Civil Service Commission, an Independent Third Party Hearing Examiner charges a fee to hear an appeal. These fees usually range from $2500 - $12,000 per Hearing and that cost is shared equally between the City and the appealing employee. In most cases the Hearing Examiner will require the appellant to post a substantial cash deposit (usually $1,500 to $5,000) in advance of the Hearing. There is also a filing fee of $150 to the American Arbitration Association. None of these charges are paid by Local 440 and are the sole responsibility of the member filing the appeal. (However, after the final disposition of the case, the member may apply to the Local 440 Legal Aid Committee and request financial assistance in accordance with the Constitution and By-Laws Art. VIII.) The decision of the Hearing Examiner is final and binding on all parties.
Member (Print Name) Date
Local 440 Representative (Print Name) Date
Local 440 Representative Date
Your Local Disciplinary Representatives:
Don Westmoreland – Station 17 C 817-929-0584
Craig Ladkin – Station 19 A 817-689-2294
Cade Cornish – Station 20 B 817-975-6045
Please call for representation as soon as you are called in for questioning!!!