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Sunday, May 14, 2017

City of Charlotte & Crystal Eschert: Not a "Social Media Policy" Problem

This week, in Charlotte's Federal Courthouse, a jury got it right--thanks to the fortitude of former City of Charlotte Fire Inspector Crystal Eschert and her attorney, Meg Maloney (Margaret Behringer Maloney--founding member of Maloney Law & Associates, PLLC  ).  They won a $1.5 Million lawsuit after Ms. Eschert was unjustly fired in retaliation for reporting unsafe conditions in a Fire building under renovation.

The City of Charlotte tried without success to claim it fired Eschert because she made a private Facebook post which used the word "thug" to describe someone doing criminal conduct--while specifically saying race must not be a factor in judging a person's conduct.  The City turned that statement into some kind of potential racially-charged-riot-inducing inflammatory statement which was allegedly inflaming the passions and sensitivities of all of Charlotte and the surrounding areas (or something like that) in such a way that would also make it impossible for this (celebrity?) fire inspector to check the aftermath of fires throughout our land because of the notoriety of this single, anti-racism, privately-posted, Facebook post which one anonymous person wrote to Fire Chief John Hannon and Police Chief Rodney Monroe to complain about....

"" sent an email complaint to the chiefs, but nobody can locate any person attached to that email address.  It may be that the City hasn't tried very hard to locate the source of the email.  One wonders if they asked Fire Chief John Hannon if he sent it.  Of course, when the City Manager asked John Hannon if he had previously leaked an employee record, he lied about it.  Then it was discovered and he admitted it.  

Before the now-infamous Facebook posting and "" email's frantic complaints about it, Eschert had reported safety concerns at the fire station office building, from possible black mold and water leaking to exposed electrical wires and a long list of other dangers--at the building for people who are supposed to inspect for and correct those things at all of our other buildings.  

But the Chief in charge of that building and the safety of all of its employees was exposed.  And probably angry.  That's what the jury found.  He fired Crystal Eschert not because of a social media policy violation, but because of RETALIATION. 

This decision exposes the culture of severe retaliation in the City of Charlotte that needs to be scrubbed and destroyed.  

Congratulations to Ms. Eschert and Ms. Maloney, as well as U.S. District Frank Whitney who didn't fall for the City's song and dance on dismissal claims and therefore let the case move forward.  Good for the jury, who saw through a ridiculous cover story and did the right thing.  

There are some final arguments to make before an Order is entered, but we can hope it stands as the jury intended.