Former Fire District Employee Sues SHFAD

Attorneys for the Sweet Home Fire & Ambulance District filed a 364-page motion to dismiss a petition for writ of mandamus on May 17 regarding a lawsuit initiated by former firefighter Zachary Lincoln. 

Lincoln filed the petition through the Linn County Circuit Court on April 15. He alleged amendment violations, policy violations, issues with administrative rules, retaliation and state law violations. Lincoln has also filed a complaint through the United States District Court, district of Oregon Eugene Division. 

Lincoln believes he was wrongfully terminated from SHFAD and is seeking $1,100,001 between loss of wages, employee benefits, non-economic damages and punitive damages against Fire Chief Nick Tyler, former Fire Chief Dave Barringer and private investigator Tim Doney. 

Doney works for Doney Management and Consulting LLC, and was hired for an internal affairs investigation into Lincoln by the SHFAD on Jan. 18, 2023. This investigation was provided to Lincoln, who then provided the documents to The New Era.

Doney has been working as a consultant since 2016. According to his LinkedIn profile, Doney Management and Consulting, LLC is a firm offering management and consulting services to municipal, county and other public sector entities, in particular, public safety agencies. Policy management, training coordination, grant writing, special projects, pre-employment and workplace investigation services are offered. 

Doney’s investigation indicates various policy violations. After interviewing personnel, Doney concluded sustained violations in seven different policies and one Oregon Administrative Rule violation. The investigation highlights an unfounded policy violation and a non-sustained violation of a different policy. 

Another investigation through the Bureau of Labor and Industries Civil Rights Division indicates various determinations found by senior investigator Tyler Stokes. Stokes determined there was no substantial evidence of unlawful employment practices based on invocation of the Oregon workers’ compensation system, based on reporting or opposing unlawful practices by a public employer and denial of protected leave under the Oregon Family Leave Act. 

Stokes did however find substantial evidence of unlawful employment practices based on the complainant’s (Lincoln) invocation of Oregon Sick Time leave in that the respondent (Barringer) interfered with sick time and retaliated against him for invoking it. Stokes also found substantial evidence of unlawful employment practices based on a disability of Lincoln’s, in that Barringer did not engage in a meaningful interactive process to identify reasonable accommodation for Lincoln’s disability, discriminated against Lincoln in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, and barred him from employment. 

According to court documents, attorneys for SHFAD filed the motion to dismiss Lincoln’s petition for writ of mandamus concluding, “Defendants have substantive defenses which are not set out in this motion to dismiss but are reserved for litigation should this matter unfortunately not be dismissed.”

Lincoln has brought his complaints to the fire board meetings since April 2023. At the most recent meeting, he defended himself against Doney’s investigation, including mentioning that other personnel allegedly violated the same policies but did not receive the same treatment he has. 

The New Era will continue to follow the courts as this proceeds.