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New Monarch Fire Department assistant chief previously fired for discrimination

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CHESTERFIELD, MO (KTVI) – Friday’s announcement of the Monarch Fire Protection District’s new assistant chief has many firefighters up in arms.

On April 7th, Cary Spiegel will begin his new job at a familiar place. He used to be a Monarch deputy chief, until he was fired in November of 2011, along with three other officers, after the district lost a gender discrimination lawsuit.

It was a lawsuit filed in 2007 by four female firefighter-paramedics employed by Monarch. They claimed that several of the district’s officers created a hostile work environment for them. Two of the women were awarded $200,000 in damages, and in November 2011, four officers were fired, including Deputy Chief Cary Spiegel.

That same month, these two female employees spoke with FOX 2 about the atmosphere they could no longer tolerate. For example, Donna Kessler and Dana Buckley said they were passed over for promotions, and taunted for their female attributes. Kessler explained, "I could not do any PR assignments because I was not a proper firefighter image. They didn’t want people seeing me pregnant."

Now, Monarch firefighters are shocked and baffled that the board hired Spiegel back, especially since Kessler and Buckley still work for the district.

Monarch Fire Captain Andy Stecko worries that Spiegel’s return would mean reverting back to that hostile work environment. He says the firefighters are considering legal action. He adds, “This is a thoughtless decision by Jane Cunningham and Robin Harris with very negative potential consequences that demands a full explanation and careful reconsideration.”

But Monarch Board President Robin Harris, who approved Spiegel’s hiring, says Spiegel’s education and experience made him the most qualified candidate.
Regarding the lawsuit, in both 2011 and today, Harris maintains that Spiegel was innocent, and wrongly fired. He explains, “Cary Spiegel was not a defendant in the case, the district was. There was no finding against Cary Spiegel of any wrongdoing.”

But, in 2011, the plaintiffs begged to differ. Kessler said, “I want people to know that these four people who were named are not scapegoats. They were the four individual people that the actual complaints were against. They were the ones that were threatening us.”

Spiegel will report to Monarch Fire Chief Tom Vineyard, who had no say in the hiring process. Vineyard told told FOX 2 he was unable to comment on the matter.

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15 comments

  • Joe Firefighter

    This is an absolute outrage that a man found guilty of discrimination can find his way back to the job he was fired from. What a great representative for the Monarch Fire Dept.

    • CrazyB

      If you read the attached letter, it says that Mr. Spiegel was never directly connected to the accusations. I guess it was the three people under him.

  • John Smith

    After watching the Shenanigans that went on at the Wentzville Fire Department last year, the last people I would believe are union shop stewards….I am so sick of these unions running the fire districts. Please vote against any tax increases in the Wentzville Fire District until the current union supported directors step down and return the district to the taxpayers. Fire departments in the Metro area used to be a nice place to work, but, corruption, greed, and insanity have rendered them nothing more than a “sorry” place to work. The poor “pity” union workers are being misled by misguided union leadership. If they do not do what their “union bosses” say they will be discarded and have their careers and lives ruined….just ask those chiefs at Wentzville who are hoping to find another job paying 100k per year! Good luck with that….

  • ByeByeToTheRite

    Why let a little thing such as previously being fired for violating employee’s rights keep a person from being promoted to the second highest management spot? I mean, not in America! In America, it’s different: quality of work and fairness do not count! Only being a ruthless, dimwit, arrogant but ultra-aggressive/assertive Type AAA personality, willing to get on your knees to shove more cash up yours and the government’s behinds, is what matters today – I’ve seen it at just about everywhere I’ve worked.

    And fire districts are sure on their knees for more cash! Got to pay those HUGE, unsustainable lifetime welfare pension handouts to thugs like this guy!

    It’s good to see that only the best and the finest get rewarded in this country! Not.

    • Byebye2libtard

      You haven’t worked in years you stay at home eating your government cheese. Your nothing more then a democratic operative like a sheep going obammmmaaaaa .

  • Joe

    I would hardly believe a letter published about the four chiefs that was generated by the District sued. If the four were named and the won suit was won…. who then is guilty? Again, educate yourself about the law suit before you defend it. And as for union… the union had nothing to do with the suit other than supporting the women. Good try spinning it though.

  • Nicole

    There are simply some things women shouldn’t do. Being a firefghter is definitely one of them. I would be pissed is a pregnant firefighter was called ti my house to save my children.

  • Nicole

    Don’t misunderstand me. I agree that I would be happy my kids were safe, but chances are she didn’t get there as fast or had the ability to carry them with ease. I’m not trying to sound like a woman hater, but they offer women erelaxed physical requirements to pass these types of things. What happens if a woman firefighter loses her baby while trying to save someone else? Everyone would be up in arms about why she was there in the first place.

  • Karleen

    I am in agreement with Nicole….there are some career choices that seem better suited for men. She brings up a good point about the risks for her baby, and the lawsuits that would result. I’m not sure what the original discrimination suit entailed but its getting ridiculous the lawsuits that make it to a jury trial.

  • Karleen

    Also, there are many cases in which people are wrongly Accused and discriminated against. I doubt this fire board is stupid to do this without knowing the consequences.

  • Danielle

    You do not physically fight fires while you are pregnant. You are still part of the team but you are on the side lines for the time being. You still go to work and do the lighter work around the station. Obviously, a 7 month pregnant woman would not be running into your house to save you. That’s unsafe for everyone. I think you should do more research before you decide who you want/don’t want saving you and yours. There are some female firefighters who are in better shape than a good amount of men firefighters. But has long as they are male, who cares what kind of shape they are in. They are better, right?

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