Firefighter fired for Facebook post

A veteran Bourne firefighter was fired recently for Facebook posts that were critical to a supervisor and town officials. According to WHDH, in the posts he uses “foul language and anti-gay slurs to slam Bourne police officers, his deputy fire chief and the town itself.”

Firefighter Richard Doherty was fired after 16 years on the job following a series of 3 disciplinary hearings in 2010. Several of Doherty’s postings were posted during his work shift.

The Bourne Courier quoted Guerino’s testimony:

Firefighter Doherty has repeatedly demonstrated that he cannot meet the requisite standards of the position he holds. He cannot function effectively within the fire department when he has demeaned other firefighters with vitriol. [Doherty’s Facebook postings reflect] disrespect to gay individuals, mentally challenged individuals, patriotic citizens, public officials or people who might have a viewpoint different from his. [The posts represent a] reckless decision [in judgment and were broadcast] further to an unknown audience… invit[ing] inquiry as to whether he feels immunized from consequences for his actions.

The newspaper also quoted one of the three attorneys handling the disciplinary hearings that Doherty’s testimony “shows a consistent pattern of untruthfulness,” was “continually evasive and sarcastic,”and showed “a pervasive pattern of perjury, disrespect for authority and sworn testimony that was contrived and contemptuous.”

“The town of Bourne wouldn’t tolerate that kind of mindset from employees. We send out a message that we want them to be professional and we support the town administrator,” said John Ford, of the Bourne Board of Selectmen.

“I don’t take anything personally. This is a job – we take it serious. We want to protect the reputation of the fire department – we’ve got an excellent fire department, and we want to protect the reputation of the town of Bourne,” said Ford.

The firefighters union said they’d appeal the decisions.

Spokesman Gil Taylor was quoted by WHDH as saying that “Mr. Doherty is not a racist, bigot, [anti-gay], nor anti-special needs as the town alleges. He has never provided substandard service or patient care to anyone regardless of his personal feelings.”

The union told WHDH that their appeal will center around the fact that they don’t believe the status updates on Facebook were for public consumption. They say the firefighter’s Facebook was setup to have restricted access for only his friend and family.


About Attorney John J. MacLaughlan

John MacLaughlan is Massachusetts licensed attorney as well as a Boston police officer. John is currently assigned to the Youth Violence Strike Force (Gang Unit). He is a graduate of the Massachusetts School of Law with a concentration in Labor Law. He holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell as well as a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. John has taught Defensive Tactics, Firearms, Use of Force, Applied Patrol Procedures, and Police Response to Active Shooters to sworn police officers and police academy recruits. Prior to becoming a Boston Police Officer, John served for 9 years as a police officer in Lowell, where he was a member of the Police Dive Team and Patrol Rifle Team.
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