Missouri fire chief, four others sue their own fire district

  • Source: st. louis post-dispatch
  • Published: 12/13/2013 12:00 AM

Fire Chief Mike Ballmann and four other O’Fallon Fire Protection District administrators are asking a judge to ensure they’ll get severance pay if they’re eventually fired in a cost-cutting move. The five, in a lawsuit filed Dec. 3 against the district in St. Charles County Circuit Court, also contend that the district must give them the same amounts if they retire or resign, says their attorney, Frank Vatterott. At issue are employment contracts with top-level employees, which the district is canceling on Dec. 31. After that, those affected become “at will” employees. The five aren’t challenging the district’s authority to end the contracts. However, they say canceling those agreements in itself triggers the agreements’ “separation pay” provisions — even if their employment ends after the contracts expire.In contrast, the suit says, the district maintains that “no money is or will be owed” if firings take place after the contracts expire.The district board’s attorney, Neil Bruntrager, said Wednesday that the plaintiffs’ interpretation was wrong but declined to comment further on the suit.


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