By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Civil service panel agrees with demotion
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
The Forsyth County Civil Service Board has denied an appeal of disciplinary action taken against the county’s former chief fire investigator.

Steve Anderson was demoted March 26 from fire marshal to firefighter II for the offenses of harassment in the workplace of a sexual and discriminatory nature, falsification of documents and wasted time.

He also was cited for failure to do work at an acceptable level of competence and disgraceful conduct.

In a letter signed by Avery Howell, chairman of the three-member board, Anderson was told that there is sufficient evidence to sustain the five violations.

“While there were some factual disputes, you admitted to many of the actions which resulted in your discipline,” Howell wrote.

“Instead of contesting the factual basis for the policy violations, you contended that you were disciplined more severely than other fire department employees who had committed similar policy violations.”

The letter, which was dated last week, goes on to say that the board found significant factual differences in the cases and based on the facts proven in Anderson’s case “the proper discipline could and perhaps should have been termination of employment.”

It continued: “However, properly applying the mitigating circumstances of good employment reviews and no prior disciplinary history, the fire chief correctly approved your demotion rather than termination.”

Anderson’s attorney, Greg Fidlon, declined comment on the matter other than to say his client is still weighing his options.

Fire Chief Danny Bowman issued an e-mail Wednesday to the department about the board’s decision.

“I have been informed by the Forsyth County Civil Service Board that my recent decision with regards to the fire marshal’s position has been sustained,” Bowman wrote. “I wish both sides of the table well as we move forward in a professional matter.”

Anderson was demoted after a county investigation into his conduct, during which time he was suspended with pay for nearly a month while awaiting the outcome.

Robin Brackett, an administrative specialist under his supervision, filed a complaint against him for events she said occurred between November and February.

During the five-day hearing of Anderson’s appeal, Brackett and Anderson both testified that she accepted Anderson’s invitation to a gospel concert if they went as friends. They called a meeting with employees in their division to dispel rumors that the outing was a date.

She said that Anderson spent several hours a day at her desk, distracting her from her work, while he claimed it was to evaluate how she was doing her job because of complaints he’d received.

Both also testified that he picked Brackett up for work one morning because of inclement weather and they traveled to three restaurants in the search of biscuits for their co-workers.

He confirmed that he told the division’s timekeeper, Brenda Green, to clock Brackett in at 7:30 a.m., though they did not arrive for work that day until about 10 a.m.

He said he “wasn’t thinking” when he gave Green the instruction.

Neither denied that Anderson worked on Brackett’s personal laptop computer on the clock and that after-hours phone conversations between them progressed to include sexually intimate topics.

Anderson sought a reversal of the demotion, restoration of his pay grade and asked that he be given back the 66 hours of personal leave he had to take while waiting for medical clearance for firefighter duty.

His base salary was reduced from about $71,434 to $53,841.

He also requested attorney’s fees and the 400 hours of compensatory time he forfeited as a result of going from exempt to nonexempt status.

Anderson began working for the fire department on Jan. 3, 1995. Capt. Kevin Wallace is serving as interim fire marshal.