December 17, 2015
The Village of Oak Lawn Fire Department is committed to provide safe, effective, and efficient fire and rescue service to the Village of Oak Lawn. The Village is also committed to providing a safe work environment that is free from any form of harassment, including sexual harassment. The Village expects its employees to demonstrate the highest level of professional standards at all time, but especially when they are on duty.
The Village recently became aware of information that suggests one of its firefighter/paramedics may have violated the Village’s policies, including the policy against sexual harassment, by engaging in phone sex while on duty on multiple occasions. No employee should ever have to witness or listen to the sex acts of a co-worker while they are on duty. Furthermore, the public is entitled to know that the firefighters who are paid to be available and ready to respond in a time of crisis are focused on the job at hand and are not preoccupied with inappropriate activities. Because of the serious nature of the alleged misconduct, the Village launched an investigation into our concerns. The employee who is the subject of that investigation is not currently on duty.
The employee at issue attempted to get a Temporary Restraining Order that would have blocked the Village of Oak Lawn’s ability to investigate the serious allegation that he may have engaged in sexual misconduct while on duty as an Oak Lawn Firefighter.
Today, Circuit Court Judge Diane Larsen agreed with the Village’s position and denied the employee’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order. The Village is very satisfied with that result. No employee should have the ability to block a legitimate investigation into concerns that the employee engaged in sexual misconduct while on duty.
The Mayor, Board of Trustees, Village Manager and Fire Chief take this matter very seriously and remain concerned with these allegations. No one has come to any conclusions yet as to whether the employee actually engaged in any misconduct, or how frequently that misconduct may have occurred. Today’s court ruling allows the Village to press forward with that investigation as quickly as possible. If misconduct occurred, appropriate discipline will be issued within the limits imposed by the firefighters’ collective bargaining agreement.