City Ordered to Rehire Fired Attleboro Firefighter/EMT
Massachusetts Civil Service Commission's decision states William Dunn was "not milking the system."
The Attleboro Fire Dept. has ordered the city to rehire William Dunn, an Attleboro firefighter of 16 years who was suspended then fired from his job in 2009. Dunn was fired after it was discovered he was still working in his other job while on "line of duty leave" from the AFD.
The Massachusetts Civil Service Commission said Dunn's case did not show an "employee who is milking the disability system at taxpayer expense" by managing his maintenance business, Consider it Dunn, while on leave for an injury to his knee.
Dunn, who made approximately $46,000 with the AFD, was observed by a private investigator who reported the firefighter was seen climbing into the truck, picking up the piece of power equipment and handing it to one of the other men, and throwing a bundle of wooden stakes out of the truck and observed lifting large pieces of drywall up out of the truck.
He was also allegedly observed kneeling by a boy who had been involved in an accident on his bicycle. The PI's report states that Dunn stopped his truck and crossed the street where he stood over the boy, and bent down with his “legs spread wide as he bent down to tend to the boy."
In his testimony Dunn disputes some of the PI's findings and the Commission's decision states that Dunn was not milking the system.
In fact, Commissioner Paul Stein states in the 35-page decision that to the contrary, "Dunn was dutifully complying with all reasonable advice he had received from his treating physicians and therapists who honestly believed, as did he, that their course of treatment was medically necessary to bring him to the point at which he safely could return to the job he loved."
The decision goes on to say that the firefighter/EMT devoted 20 or more hours per week in treatment before Attleboro pulled the plug.
It also states, however, that the city correctly points out that it is not within the Commission’s purview to make a determination whether Dunn was, or now is, fit to return to full duty, but only whether Attleboro proved by a preponderance of substantial evidence that, from October 2008 through April 2009, Dunn misrepresented his condition as worse than he knew, or reasonably should have known, it to be.
"He shall be reinstated to his position as an AFD firefighter/EMT without loss of any benefits to which he is entitled on or after April 9, 2009," the decision by Commissioner Paul Stein states. "Nothing in this decision, however, is intended to establish the specific employment status to which the Appellant should be reinstated (for example, limited duty, full duty or LOD leave).
Former Attleboro Fire Chief Ronald Churchill would not comment on the Commission's decision, but said "Mayor (Kevin Dumas) and Chief (Scott Lachance) will have to deal with the costs and effect this ruling will have on the department."
City officials did not respond to request for comment on the Commission's decision and whether an appeal of the decision will be filed. The law firm representing Dunn, Pyle Rome Ehrenberg, could not be reached for comment. Calls to a number associated with "Consider it Dunn," went unanswered.
If a file for a motion is filed, it must be done within 10 days of receiving the Commission's decision, which is dated June 2, 2011.