OCOEE, Fla. — An Ocoee firefighter disciplined for calling in sick during the pandemic is fighting his discipline saying he was just following protocols.
Veteran firefighter Eric Megegat is being disciplined for calling in sick four times in 12 month, a violation of city policy.
But because of the pandemic, the city sent out an email to employees telling them to stay home if they feel sick and what to do if they were exposed to COVID-19.
He feels he followed the rules after possible exposure and was punished for it.
After our first story on his predicament, the city agreed to take away his discipline. But he said the problem is that the deal came with a stipulation that says: “This decision is subject to your and the fire union’s acknowledgment by signature below that this in no way sets a precedent or constitutes a past practice for future discipline or grievances.”
He said he is not willing to sign that.
He said things like this have the city’s firefighters looking to go elsewhere.
“You should know we have morale issues at the city of Ocoee and this isn’t just about money … this is how we are treated,” Megegat said.
The firefighters’ union said in the last four years Ocoee fire has seen a 49% turnover rate. The national average is half of that.
The Ocoee mayor said publicly that there is not a mass exodus of firefighters from the city and that firefighters have good benefits and recently received a raise.
But Menegat said the city and its first responders need to have some open and honest conversations so he is pleading with the city council to sit down with firefighters and listen.