County battalion chief disputes ‘letter of counseling’

Escambia County Battalion Fire Chief Dan Brask has disputed that he and two other chiefs were given a letter of counseling by former Public Safety director Jason Rodgers. Brask gave a different version of what happened from what county staff told the county commissioners at the agenda review on Thursday, April 8.

In an email sent to Assistant County Administrator Debbie Bowers and HR director Jana Still, Brask said his and two fellow chiefs met with Rodgers, Bowers, County Fire Chief Jon Williams on Dec. 14, 2020, and the result of the meeting was “no disciplinary action would be taken against the three of us.”

He wrote: “Jason Rodgers asked everyone to leave the room besides the three Battalion Chiefs, and Jason Rodgers acknowledged that the requirement for us to be disciplined was politically generated. He confirmed that the picture taken of the Jonathan Owens’ campaign sign came from a volunteer firefighter from Beulah by the name of Reed Moss. Moss sent the picture directly to Bergosh who directed Administrator Gilley to punish someone.”

He continued, “There are numerous inconsistencies with this entire disciplinary process, the most current issue is the letters of counseling, which we were never provided.”

Here is the email trail:

From: Dan N. Brask
Sent: Thursday, April 8, 2021 6:13 PM
To: Debbie L. Bowers; Adam Bobe; Adam J. Harrison; Jana E. Still
Cc: Eric W. Gilmore ; Jon P. Williams
Subject: Re: Agenda Review Discussion Re Fire Disciplinary Actions

Debbie,
The picture attached is a counseling notification form (which is not for union members), we never received a letter of counseling (a correct form of discipline in the IAFF CBA). Neither I, Adam Harrison or Adam Bobe signed any paperwork concerning discipline. The result of a meeting (12/14/20 @ 1300hrs) between the three accused Battalion Chiefs, Chief Williams, Jason Rodgers, and you, was that no disciplinary action would be taken against the three of us. Jason Rodgers asked everyone to leave the room besides the three Battalion Chiefs and Jason Rodgers acknowledged that the requirement for us to be disciplined was politically generated. He confirmed that the picture taken of the Jonathan Ownes campaign sign came from a volunteer firefighter from Beulah by the name of Reed Moss. Moss sent the picture directly to Bergosh who directed Administrator Gilley to punish someone. There are numerous inconsistences with this entire disciplinary process, the most current issue is the letters of counseling, which we were never provided. The three of us are now being disciplined twice for the same issue. This issue can be rectified by following what was originally decided on 12/14/20 which was that no disciplinary action was required.

Battalion Chief Dan Brask
Third Battalion C-watch


From: Debbie L. Bowers
Sent: Thursday, April 8, 2021 4:27 PM
To: Adam Bobe; Adam J. Harrison; Dan N. Brask
Cc: Eric W. Gilmore; Jon P. Williams
Subject: FW: Agenda Review Discussion Re Fire Disciplinary Actions

Gentlemen,

There has been some confusion as to the outcome of this discussion. To clear that up, you will see explanation below and the commissioners have been provided a copy of the Letter of Counseling, noting that you al refused to sign. These will be included in your HR file in the downtown HR files. I wanted to make sure you are aware of this. If you watch the Agenda Review recording from this morning, you will see more discussion around this. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me.

Debbie


From: Debbie L. Bowers
Sent: Thursday, April 8, 2021 4:13 PM
To: Robert Bender; Jeff Bergosh; Doug Underhill; Lumon J. May; Steven L. Barry
Cc: Janice P. Gilley; Jana E. Still; Eric W. Gilmore; Alison A. Rogers
Subject: FW: Agenda Review Discussion Re Fire Disciplinary Actions
Importance: High

Gentlemen,

Please find below an explanation of our findings after reviewing the CBA. We will be forwarding the Letters of Counseling to the HR Files today. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Debbie

After the discussion at the Agenda Review, I requested the documentation in question. While it is true that a “Letter to File” is not part of the existing IAFF Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and is not considered a form of discipline, it is utilized as a way to memorialize a conversation or incident with an employee. In the case that was referenced at the meeting, a Letter of Counseling which is the first step in the progressive discipline process, was in fact given to all three Battalion Chiefs. As I had not previously seen the documentation in question, I was not aware that a Letter of Counseling was issued to the Battalion Chiefs.

A Letter of Counseling is addressed in their CBA and denotes that “Documentation is maintained at the department level.” Per the CBA their practice is correct; however, I do agree that a copy should have been provided to HR to maintain in their personnel file. I have attached a copy of the relevant section of the CBA with the verbiage highlighted. I have discussed this with the department and moving forward, HR will be provided a copy.

I hope this helps clarify some points that were brought forth in the discussion at the meeting. If ever you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. My email is jestill@myescambia.com and cell is ###.

Best regards,
Jana Still, M.A., SHRM-SCP

Here is the form Brask said he was given:

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3 thoughts on “County battalion chief disputes ‘letter of counseling’

  1. I think I would like to see what the other 2 Chiefs have to say also. I would also like to see the one that is being deposited in their HR file. The article says they refused to sign the forms but at least one of the Chiefs is saying there was going to be no discipline. Did the Chief of the Department or someone else say one thing and do another.

  2. Was the attachment showing the ““Documentation is maintained at the department level.” Per the CBA their practice is correct” excluded from this report for any particular reason? Another question I have is if this was part of their CBA that was negotiated by the County Staff, why wasn’t Commissioner Bergosh informed of this clause to begin with? Possible that current HR staff was not aware of another facet of their responsibility per chance? Too much monkey business to quote an old Chuck Berry tune…

  3. Is there a chain of command on the volunteer side? Heck just take your issue straight to the top!

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