Decatur County firefighters sue county -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Decatur County firefighters sue county

January 19, 2007

Decatur County--  Two Decatur County firefighters say they were retaliated against after reporting that some co-workers cheated on a state-mandated test and after they supported a discrimination lawsuit against the county.

They say they were suspended without pay, and their reputations were damaged.  The county says it will fight the lawsuit.  The county attorney says the firefighters were reimbursed, and the county has done what it can to accommodate them.

Steve Enfinger and Guy Yates say when Michele Legace applied for a job with Decatur County Fire & Rescue, they feel she was not hired solely because she was a woman. 

She filed a discrimination suit against the county, and the two men supported her.  "She performed just as well as any man, or better," said Yates.

They say two less qualified men were hired instead.  Enfinger and Yates reported they overheard the new hires say they cheated on a state-mandated exam. 

Later, the county suspended Enfinger and Yates without pay. They say they were also treated differently at work.  "At times its been hostile, a hostile work environment," said Enfinger.

Yates and Enfinger are now suing, but the county says their suit has no merit. County Attorney Brown Mosely says Decatur County paid the two firefighters their lost wages.

He feels their suit is being driven by lawyers fees. The firefighters attorney Louis Hatcher insists that's not true.  "When you have the opportunity to try to right a wrong, when you have the opportunity to step up to the plate for somebody who can't necessarily step up to the plate themselves, sometimes you just have to do that," said Hatcher.

Enfinger and Yates are hoping for something else to come from the lawsuit.  "Bring honor and dignity back to this fire department and to help clear our names," said Yates.  

"Because the truth never has come out we've had to endure some rough comments from employees that we work with," said Enfinger.

They also hope their ordeal will prevent this from happening again in Decatur County.  Also listed in the firefighters' lawsuit are former county administrator Jim Bramblett and EMS Director Bill Hogan who was acting fire chief at the time.



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