Mayor says the issue will not be discussed publicly
Angela Lyon and about 14 other people wanted to get some answers from Plympton-Wyoming councillors about the firing of a firefighter who filed a sexual harassment claim.
Instead, they sat in the shade of a tree outside town hall while councillors met inside.
Members of the public, including the media, have not been allowed inside council chambers – unless they come as a delegation – because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The room is small and officials say they are not able to adequately distance members of the public.
Lyons and several others tried to be heard as a delegation, however the town administration turned down the request. Mayor Lonny Napper instead issued a statement hours before the meeting.
It says in part: “The town reviews and investigates all reports of any reported contraventions of the policy. Any individual found to have perpetrated or threatened Workplace Violence or engaged in Workplace Harassment or Workplace Sexual Harassment is, without limitation, subject to remedial, disciplinary and/or legal action up to and including, dismissal for cause/discharge for just cause.
“All complaints of workplace violence, harassment or sexual harassment are dealt with in as sensitive and confidential manner as possible, as are all human resources issues touching upon individual employees of the town. Therefore, the town is not at liberty to discuss the specifics of any particular situation (such as a complaint under the policy or corrective action taken against an employee) in a public forum, and we will not be making any further comment on the allegations that are now circulating.”
Lyon, whose husband was one of three firefighters dismissed earlier this year, wanted to talk about Carrie Ann Wilson’s dismissal. Lyon says Wilson filed a sexual harassment complaint and ended up being the one dismissed. She wanted council to answer her concerns.
Instead, she and 14 others stood outside of the council building while the meeting went on.
“We’re just trying to support Carrie Ann and figure out why she was fired. We need to know why,” says Lyon.
“She reported sexual harassment on the fire department in the workplace, and as a result there was an investigation and she was the one who ended up fired. The firefighters that defended her were either reprimanded or fired. The person that was harassing is still on the fire department. The town needs to address sexual harassment.”
And Lyon is frustrated they aren’t able to speak to council. “I understand with COVID issues that we can’t have anyone in the chambers, but it does concern me that they did not want anyone to speak in front of council. They repeatedly use this HR (human resources) excuse to not address the issue, and I don’t feel that they can hide behind that.
“Obviously this didn’t have the desired effect because we are locked out of the building and denied from speaking.”
Lyon was hoping new councillor, Mike Vasey, would be able to address the issue. The former Wyoming Fire Chief was sworn in Wednesday to the cheers of the protesters listening to an audio feed on their phones outside.
But inside, Vasey said he would be unable to speak about the issue saying after speaking to the lawyers for the three firefighters who had been fired by the town, he was in a conflict of interest.