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Friday, March 16, 2012

Small-Town Southern Mayor Fires Employee Over Nasty Facebook Exchange

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Doesn't "Like" to fight on Facebook
  • Doesn't "Like" to fight on Facebook

Small-town politics is often far more entertaining than bad TV. Why do you think the writers of the mockumentary Parks and Recreation have been so successful?

Well, here's some more material for NBC: A paramedic who had been working for the town of Valley, Alabama is suing the city's mayor and city council after he was fired for inappropriate behavior on Facebook. According to court documents, Scott Hamil was using Facebook to encourage his friends to attend an upcoming city council hearing where the city would be debating whether to eliminate the EMT department where Hamil worked.

And because no more than 10,000 people live in Valley, it wasn't long before Mayor Arnold Leak caught wind of this online campaign. The mayor logged onto his own page, and allegedly "berated Hamil in an exchange on Facebook." The mayor eventually fired him, saying Hamil had engaged in abusive conduct, and insubordination, the claim states.

But Hamil claims he never trashed the mayor online, nor was he disrespectful on Facebook. Hamil says he simply made comments and engaged in discussions about the concerns he had over this proposal to cut the EMT department.

Hamil appeal the mayor's decision to the council, but members sided with the mayor, and Hamil found himself in the unemployment line. Hamil said that while the council acknowledged his First Amendment rights to discuss issues freely on Facebook, members didn't like how his comments reflected on the city.

According to the complaint, the council stated the following: "When evaluating your commentary, it must be determined whether your interest in commenting on matters of public concern outweighs the city's interest in promoting efficiency of the public services it performs."

Hamil decided to sue, which, of course, means the cash-strapped city will be shelling out money it was trying to save.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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