Fire Fighter, Statesville Local 3137 File Suit Against City Manager, Assistant City Manager

Statesville Fire Fighter Scott Butler and Statesville Professional Fire Fighters Association have filed a suit against the city manager and assistant city manager asking the city’s leaders to allow Butler his right to a Civil Service Board grievance hearing, which has been denied to him following his failure to receive a promotion.

In a suit filed in Iredell County Superior Court, Butler and Statesville International Fire Fighters Association Local 3137 are asking for a mandatory injunction to direct Lynn Smyth, assistant city manager, and Larry Pressley, city manager, to grant Butler’s grievance be heard in front of the Civil Service Board. Under the City of Statesville Charter, specifically Article V, Section 5.5, employees have a right to bring their grievance before the Civil Service Board. According to the charter, grievances include promotions, demotions, suspensions and terminations of members of the fire and police departments. Butler, a veteran of the fire department since 1992 and a member of Statesville Local 3137, applied for a deputy chief position in October 2014. He successfully completed the promotional process, but in June 2014, the position was filled by an outside candidate. Butler has since requested his denial to this promotion be heard in front of the Civil Service Board multiple times over the course of the last year. All his requests have been rejected.

In the suit filed, Butler and Statesville Local 3137 are asking for a preliminary mandatory injunction directing the city manager and assistant city manager to allow Butler to present his grievance regarding the failure to be promoted to Deputy Chief to the Civil Service Board as required by the Statesville City Charter. The suit also asks for a permanent injunction directing the city manager and assistant city manager to abide by Article V of the City Charter and allow fire fighters to file and pursue grievances before the Civil Service Board as to all matters of concerns set out in Sections 5.5 and 5.14.1.

“As president of Statesville Professional Fire Fighters Local 3137, we regret having to go to this extent to get results,” said John Perry, Statesville Local 3137 president. “We have a member who has applied for a position and he has a right to be heard during an grievance appeal.

“We will continue to be supportive of the Statesville Fire Department and the citizens of Statesville. They are our primary concern.”

Statesville Local 3137 is an affiliate member of the Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Association of North Carolina (PFFPNC) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). PFFPNC attorney Travis Payne, of the law offices of Edelstein and Payne out of Raleigh, filed the suit on behalf of Butler and Statesville Local 3137.

“It is unfortunate that fire fighters have to resort to a lawsuit because city officials will not follow and respect the clear directives of the city’s charter,” Payne said. “Hopefully this matter can get quickly resolved.”

Both Butler and the Statesville Professional Fire Fighters also are hopeful for a fruitful outcome.

“We feel there has been a law broken to not allow this (appeal) to happen,” Perry said. “We want due process – due process that is already in the statute in the law.

“This is not an attack on the City of Statesville but a matter of public safety for both fire fighters and police. We have a right to appeal.”