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Sterling Employment Law

Detroit fire official violated code of conduct by swearing at TV reporter

Detroit's Deputy Fire Commissioner Fred Wheeler lost his temper when confronted by a television news reporter earlier this week. No one is disputing that. But did he deserve to be nudged out of his job over the incident?

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing released a statement saying that when Wheeler slapped the microphone out of the reporter's hand and swore at him, he violated the city's code of conduct for appointees. He said his office "investigated" the incident before reaching that conclusion.

In a statement released Thursday, Wheeler offered his resignation from the department. It was one of those situations, though, where one gets the feeling that more happened behind the scenes than the parties involved are admitting. We don't know of any employment dispute regarding Wheeler's "resignation," but it would not be surprising if news of such friction trickled out in the coming few days. Sometimes people have to put on a good front for a little while in the interest of making a good public impression.

Cases like this can be tough to sort out. No one is saying that Wheeler's behavior towards the television news reporter was acceptable, but everyone makes mistakes and not everyone mistake is worth dismissing someone over. Because of the ambiguities and complications involved in many dismissals, people who believe they were wrongfully hired would do well to carefully choose an attorney who is fastidious and careful to represent them. It takes delicacy and skills to get the facts right in situations such as these.

Source: The Detroit Free Press, "Detroit fire official removed from job after swearing at TV reporter, slapping microphone," May 31, 2012

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