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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Firing of Spokane Valley firefighter upheld by Court of Appeals

Capt. Jon Sprague stands with firefighters during a wildland fire training session on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at in Spokane Valley, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The firing of a Spokane Valley Fire Department captain for repeatedly using the department email system for personal use has been upheld by the Washington State Court of Appeals.

Capt. Jon Sprague was fired in 2012 for repeatedly sending personal email message to other firefighters despite being told not to and being disciplined for it several times. The messages were related to Sprague’s Spokane Christian Firefighters Fellowship group and Sprague contended in a lawsuit that his firing was religious discrimination.

Sprague’s firing was upheld by the department’s Civil Service Commission, after which Sprague filed a lawsuit against the department in Spokane County Superior Court. That lawsuit was dismissed after a judge said that Sprague should have appealed the Civil Service Commission’s decision, not filed a lawsuit making the same discrimination argument he made before the commission.

The Court of Appeals upheld that decision Wednesday. The unchallenged factual determinations made by the commission “doom this appeal,” the court’s written decision stated. It was Sprague’s failure to appeal the commission’s decision that left him without a viable cause of action in Superior Court, the decision said.