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Published: Monday, 2/19/2007

3 female firefighters fired for secret tapes

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Three members of the Toledo Fire Department who sued the city over gender discrimination have been terminated after the women were found guilty administratively of secretly taping conversations in the workplace.

Toledo Firefighters Local 92 appealed the decision and asked for an arbitrator to rule on the matter.

Assistant Chief Mike Wolever recommended last month that former captain Carla Stachura and former firefighters Judi Imhoff and Geraldine McCalland be fired for unbecoming conduct. He also recommended that they receive back pay from the time they were suspended in June. He dismissed other charges against them.

Dave Moebius, the city's assistant chief of staff and safety director, recently concurred with the recommendations.

Jim Martin, Local 92 president, said he was surprised Mr. Moebius agreed with the chief's recommendation.

"We thought it was obvious the discipline was inappropriate," he said.

Based on prior arbitration, Mr. Martin said it could take anywhere from three months to 1 1/2 years to resolve the matter.

The administrative charges al-leged that at least 40 recordings were made during a two-year period. The women were accused of sharing the information with their attorney's office by delivering a digital recording device for data transfer.

The women were originally put on paid leave by Chief Mike Bell for their own protection during an internal department investigation. The probe culminated in June with numerous charges, with specifications against each woman for violating department rules. They were also suspended without pay.

The trio filed a lawsuit in November, 2005, in Lucas County Common Pleas Court accusing the city, Chief Bell, Deputy Chief John Coleman, and former Deputy Chief Robert Metzger of gender discrimination, retaliation, and creating a hostile work environment for women.

Each plaintiff is asking for damages and compensation in excess of $250,000.

Chief Bell said previously the city became aware of the recordings from a plaintiff's attorney in a request for discovery filed in connection with the lawsuit.

Ms. Stachura, 41, was appointed in 1993 and oversaw the fire prevention bureau. Ms. McCalland, 52, was a 22-year department veteran, and Ms. Imhoff, 44, was appointed in 1989.

Contact Christina Hall at:

chall@theblade.com

or 419-724-6007.



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