On Jan. 6, nine firefighters filed suit against the city of Leesville, Mayor Robert Rose, City Administrator Courtney Christian, Fire Chief Dewaine Lawson and the entire Leesville Fire and Civil Service Board. The plaintiffs allege the city has forced several firefighters to use their vacation or compensatory time in lieu of sick hours when they were unwell.
According to state law, “firemen are entitled to full pay during sickness or incapacitated not brought about by his own negligence or culpable indiscretion for a period of not less 52 weeks.”
In the docket, the plaintiffs allege the city required firefighters to accrue a specific amount of sick leave every two weeks and refused to allow firefighters to take sick leave unless they had accrued the time. It also alleges that firefighters were required to exhaust their vacation and compensatory time if their illness was longer than the sick leave time earned. Plaintiffs said the city terminated and threatened to terminate firemen if the duration of their illnesses was longer than the accrued sick, vacation and compensatory time.
According the suit, the city asked other firefighters to donate some of their sick, vacation or compensatory time if it meant saving another colleague from threatened termination.
Firefighters Mike Allen and Dennis Doherty allege they suffered illnesses directly related to their employment and the city required both men to use all vacation and compensatory time before affording worker’s compensation benefits and were not allowed their sick leave.
Eric Baker, a Leesville firefighter, broke three ribs as a result of an accident. Baker used all his accrued sick time and was then required to use 31 hours of vacation time.
The firefighters have petitioned for a writ of mandamus against the defendants and injunctive relief. That hearing is set for March 19 at 9 a.m.