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Attorney, city official disagree as fired transgender Byron fire chief demands her job back

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You have heard of LGBT, but do you really know what the letters stand for? And how about QIA? Melissa Winter, youth advocate with the KC Anti-Violence project, breaks down the terminology for you in 90 seconds.

Fired transgender fire chief Rachel Mosby is demanding that she be reinstated with back pay and benefits in a letter to the Byron mayor and city council dated Wednesday.

The city fired Mosby on June 4 citing failing job performance, but her attorney charged that the action was discriminatory based on her gender identity.

Mosby was assigned male at birth and has transitioned and identifies as a female, her attorney said. She came out to fellow employees in late 2017 and informed her supervisors in early 2018 of her transition and gender identity.

“The reasons the city has cited for its termination of Chief Mosby are both inaccurate and wholly inadequate reasons,” said her attorney Kenneth E. Barton in the letter. “The chief has served the city and its citizens for over 12 years and her performance has been exemplary.”

Under Mosby’s leadership, the city’s Insurance Services Office rating, or ISO, has gone from 7 to 4, Barton said. ISO ratings, with a rating of 1 being the best and 10 the worst, are used by some, but not all, insurance companies to determine rates.

However, Byron Mayor Pro Tem Michael Chidester, also an attorney, said Mosby was fired solely for her failing job performance that’s “been going down hill for over a year, if not closer to two.”

The letter to council, which was provided to The Telegraph by Barton, asks that the city reinstate Mosby within two days of receipt of the letter. The letter also serves as a notice of claim for a possible lawsuit.

Byron City Attorney Thomas F. Richardson declined comment on the letter.

In its termination of Mosby, the city outlined three reasons for alleged lack of performance, including failing to maintain fire investigator certification required in the city’s job description for fire chief. A fire chief job description obtained by The Telegraph shows that the fire investigator certification is required.

However, Barton said in a telephone interview that Mosby was allowed to draft her job description when she became chief. He said she mistakenly included the fire investigation certification based on models for other city fire chief positions and that she repeatedly had asked to have the job description revised.

Also, the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council does not require that certification for Georgia fire chiefs, Barton said.

Chidester said that he’s not aware of Mosby having tried to have the job description changed. He also said that Mosby attended the arson investigation class twice at the city’s expense, but failed to followup with outside work that was required to obtain the certification.

Mosby also was terminated because she allegedly failed to release new and renewal business licenses for approval in a timely manner, causing undue delays in customers’ requests, according to the letter terminating her employment.

Barton said a change in software coupled with inadequate staffing and missed work by Mosby due to rehabilitation therapy following an accident resulted in the delays.

However, Chidester said that it was his understanding that the fire inspectors entered the required data in a hand-held tablet that was downloaded at the fire station and that Mosby only had to review the information, sign off on it and send it to City Hall. He said some inspections from December still had not been signed off by Mosby as of early June.

Mosby also allegedly attended only five of 21 classes offered at the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs conference earlier this year. Chidester said the city has record of Mosby attending a handful of classes, and that it was Mosby’s responsibility to have each class instructor sign off on her attendance.

Barton said that is not accurate.

Barton said Mosby is expected to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Additionally, Barton said he’s evaluating whether Mosby’s rights to due process were violated because she had no appeal recourse within city channels.

Mosby would have been entitled to appeal her termination last year, but she and all city department heads lost the right to appeal any disciplinary action, including termination, when council members revised the city’s personnel policy in January, Barton said.

Chidester said the city worked with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government in developing changes in both the city charter and personnel policy. “It’s our understanding that we didn’t deprive anybody of any rights by changing the policy,” he said.

Chidester said he’s satisfied that the action taken against Mosby was in the city’s best interest. But he declined to comment on whether he would vote to reinstate Mosby.

Chidester said that is an issue that should be first discussed with fellow council members.

“We hope the city makes this right,” Barton said. “I think their liability here is clear and going to be proven. But Chief Mosby just wants to get back to work and serve her fellow Byron residents.”

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