Katie Weaver Hartzog (Raleigh) and a former Cranfill Sumner attorney represented a local fire department and its chief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of N.C. This action involved claims for wrongful discharge, violations of civil rights, violations of union organizing rights, and First Amendment restraint.

Plaintiff was a fire fighter/paramedic and was president of a local chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters union.  He was terminated for various rule infractions but alleged that his firing was in retaliation for union activity and for speaking out on matters of public concern.

The trial court found that plaintiff’s misconduct superseded any protected activity in which he might have engaged and, therefore, all defendants were entitled to summary judgment.  Plaintiff appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which, after briefing and oral argument, affirmed the trial court in all respects.

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