Ex-Sherman Fireman Suit Claims Retaliation And Forced Polygraph - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Ex-Sherman Firefighter Alleges Retaliation And Forced Polygraph In Lawsuit

Posted:

SHERMAN, TX -- A former firefighter claims he was humiliated on a daily basis by his boss, and even forced to take a polygraph, but the city says the lawsuit is without merit.

The ex-fireman is suing for $200,000 to $1 million in damages, claiming violations of the Whistleblower act, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  He says it was all in retaliation for comments he made against the fire chief.

The suit says it all started when firefighter Brian Matthew Sutton, or "Matt," testified during an arbitration hearing for firefighter Tim Pike in March 2011 that Sutton believed Fire Chief Jeff Jones had a reputation for dishonesty, entrapping subordinates, and treating them unfairly.

In January 2012, Sutton says he was placed on "days" -- a regular 8-to-5 weekday job -- instead of "shift work," which requires 24 hours on and 48 off, because he posted a photo on Facebook wearing a T-shirt in support of the "Bandit."

The suit says the "Bandit" was a person who got onto the Sherman fire radio scanner frequency and disparaged the chief.

Then, in August 2012, Sutton says he called Jones to notify him about city Fire Marshal Nathan Huffman's DWI arrest. The next morning, he says he was placed on days again. Huffman was later acquitted.

During his time on days, Sutton alleges he was assigned to menial tasks normally done by those on shift, like sweeping and mopping the Central Fire Station, cleaning out the same locker over and over, washing and waxing Jones's vehicle, and cleaning cobwebs.

The suit says Chief Jones threatened he would have Sutton mopping floors for the rest of his career.

Finally in the lawsuit filed against Jones and the city, Sutton says he was given less than an hour to drive to Richardson and take a lie detector test where he says he was asked about who the "Bandit" is.

Sutton alleges he lost 25 pounds and had to go to the doctor to ask help for anxiety. He eventually resigned in October 2012.

The fire department has shut down that radio channel. Chief Jones told me "this is a personnel matter and it is our policy not to discuss ongoing personnel matters."

City attorney Brandon Shelby sent me a statement: "Brian Matthew Sutton resigned from his position with the Sherman Fire Department in October of 2012 while under investigation for multiple policy violations."

"The city of Sherman strongly contends that the allegations in Mr. Sutton's lawsuit are without merit. The city is confident that justice will ultimately prevail and the cost to the taxpayer will be limited to the cost of answering and defending against Mr. Sutton's groundless claims," the city statement says.

The mayor told me the city has a great fire department, and declined comment on the suit. The Sherman Firefighters Association says Sutton is a former member and they are not representing him.

The suit says being placed on days hurt a firefighter's ability to earn extra income on other jobs. Sutton's lawyer tells me Sutton is now working for Airport Fire Department, and the case filed in September is still "in its infancy."

In a separate case KTEN told you about last year, the District Attorney's office decided against pursuing charges in a complaint against Jones, which was filed by the same lawyer on behalf of firefighter Shane Kenney.