As of Wednesday, March 19, 2014
BRIDGEPORT A hearing date has yet to be set for a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the city last month by a former employee fired for shoplifting a fruit pie.
David Greer, who had worked for 21 years in the public works department, filed the lawsuit Dec. 12 in Douglas County Superior Court. It accuses the city of violating Greer’s right to due process and firing him for committing a theft despite never being convicted.
The lawsuit asks for compensation of past and future lost wages and benefits, “all other special and general damages,” and attorneys fees. The amount would be determined at trial.
Greer, 55, was fired April 30, 2013, following a 30-day suspension without pay when he admitted to sticking the $1.69 cherry pie in his pocket and forgetting to pay for it.
The matter was settled out of court, Greer paid for the pie and misdemeanor charges were dropped around the time he was fired. However, Mayor Marilynn Lynn said she followed city guidelines in firing him.
“My decision to terminate Mr. Greer was based on the city’s personnel manual, which states committing theft is misconduct and a terminable offense,” Lynn said in a previous interview. “The state of Washington’s settlement by compromise of misdemeanor was based on the defendant’s signed stipulation to probable cause.”
Greer told Lynn about the incident about a week after it happened, then was called to a pre-disciplinary hearing before the city placed him on leave.
He was fired immediately following a pre-termination hearing April 30.
The lawsuit alleges the city didn’t pay Greer during his administrative leave, contrary to a provision in the city’s guidelines. It also claims that the city guidelines require an employee to be convicted of a crime before the city can take disciplinary action.
“Prior to the incident that is the subject of this lawsuit, Greer maintained an exemplary personnel file and was never reprimanded or disciplined in the course of his employment with the city,” the lawsuit said.
Greer had been buying food at M & R Supermarket for his co-workers “on or about March 21, 2013,” according to court documents. Loaded down with armfuls of snacks, he put the fruit pie in his pocket.
His firing resulted in outrage among some residents, resulting in a protest outside City Hall and inside City Council chambers during a May 8 meeting.
While resident Michael Knox spent his three minutes of public comment time reading the Declaration of Independence, other audience members held up signs reading “Greer firing stinks” and “Greer firing unfair.” Some signs were left blank, Knox said.
“They were so upset they didn’t know what to say,” he said.