Nude photos of a firefighter taken at the city’s fire station got him fired. And a co-worker who took the pictures was demoted and suspended.
Now, both are fighting to get their jobs back in this city just south of Seattle.
Richard Elliott, 28, a fire department captain dismissed last month, is appealing his termination.
Kari Roll, 30, the administrative secretary who took the nude photos, has filed a claim against the city, disputing her 90-day suspension without pay and transfer to another department as a lower-paid clerk.
Both acknowledge they had sexual contact at the workplace but deny that they were on duty at the time or that their job performances suffered as a result.
“The only thing we did wrong, according to city policy, was we shouldn’t have done it at the fire station,” said Roll, who is single. ‘But did the punishment fit the crime? No.”
Elliott, who is married, said the city’s response was too severe.
“I believe that what I did was wrong,” Elliott said. “I believe my actions warranted serious disciplinary measures but not termination.”
SeaTac city officials said they cannot discuss the cases because they are confidential personnel matters. However, “the city believes there was conduct that warranted this type of action,” said Assistant City Attorney Mary Marante, who declined to be more specific. “At this point, they still have a right to privacy.”
The firefighters union has filed a grievance on Elliott’s behalf, appealing his termination and asking that he be reinstated and given back pay.
Roll’s claim against the city alleges she was improperly suspended and demoted. Her claim asks for $100,000 in damages for injury to her reputation, emotional distress, 90 days lost wages plus interest, punitive damages and attorneys fees if the matter goes to court.
Officials are tight-lipped about details of the alleged misconduct.
However, a police report filed in nearby Des Moines, Wash., sheds some light on the matter. The report was filed by Roll in August, after she discovered the photos and negatives were missing from her home.
Roll told police she took “compromising photos of a co-worker at the SeaTac Fire Department.” She kept the photos in a box under her bed, and no one except her roommate knew about them, the report states. Roll told police she did not know the photos were missing until she was confronted with them by SeaTac city officials, who won’t say how they acquired the photos.