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Monarch Lawsuit Alleges Fired Chiefs Not Given Due Process

Two former officers claim they were fired even as they were considered to replace the district's retiring Chief.

In a lawsuit filed this week in St. Louis County circuit court, three former officers of the Monarch Fire Protection District claim they were denied due process when they were removed last month in the wake of a which came back against the District in appellate court.

Leslie Crews and Cary Spiegel said in the filing that they were told they were being dismissed because of that verdict, while Michael Davis said he was given no explanation. The complaint states that the case served as "a mere pretext and excuse," and that real reason stemmed from union interests in gaining control over the district.

The trio said they were entitled to dismissal proceedings and an opportunity to clear their names in a hearing and that public statements made by members of the district board have stigmatized them and "will foreclose employment opportunities."

Monarch Board members met in closed session Thursday to refer the case to counsel for defense. A statement released Friday afternoon read in part:

the Board of Directors of the Monarch Fire Protection District found that the terminated employees were either responsible for the discrimination or failed to correct the pattern of gender discrimination that was evident.

Monarch does not tolerate discrimination in any fashion and strictly adheres to a policy of non-discrimination. The employees were terminated for cause for violation of Missouri Law. The District intends to vigorously defend this lawsuit.

The suit claims Crews and Spiegel were interviewed as candidates to succeed retiring chief Clifford "Chip" Biele in 2011, with Crews' interview as a finalist coming just days before he was fired.

Earlier this month, as Biele's replacement. Vineyard starts work Tuesday.

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