Judge hears case to see if former Davenport fire chief gets a job back

DAVENPORT-- The debate continues on whether or not former Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn should get a job back after being fired last year.

You may remember Washburn was fired as chief by Davenport City Administrator Corri Spiegel a year ago. Davenport's Civil Service Commission then ruled the city had to give Washburn a job back within the department because they say she has civil service status.

The city appealed, and on Wednesday July 18, 2018, a judge heard the case in Scott County Court.

On Wednesay two attorneys and a judge walk into a courtroom.

The judge's job is to decide if former Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn gets a job back.

There's a rule in Iowa that has to do with something called civil service status. It protects employees from being unfairly fired and left jobless. The question here is, does Lynn Washburn have civil service status in Davenport.

Washburn says yes, Davenport city attorneys say no.

It boils down to this. When you start in the department, typically you start at the bottom of the totem pole as firefighter. Then you work your way up in the ranks until eventually you're chief. Lynn Washburn was removed as chief. She says she has the right to her previous Rockford position as District Chief. What the city is arguing is that because she came from a different department completely in Rockford, Illinois, her civil service status goes away.

In court on Wednesday it depends on how the judge interprets the Iowa law in Section 400. Do you analyze every word? Or do you focus on the bigger picture?

"If the court reads the plain meaning of the statute there is only one potential outcome; Washburn has to be placed in a position," says Washburn's attorney Michael Carroll.

In the meantime Washburn is still jobless.

"She'll keep looking for work until the city says come back to work. Then she'll come back to work," says Carroll.

But she's not letting up anytime soon.

"Lynn has always been a fighter. You don't get to the point of being a chief of a big city fire department like Davenport without being a strong woman," says Carroll.

The judge will make a decision within 60 days. But Carroll says no matter the decision, this case will likely go on to be heard by a higher court.

Related stories:

https://wqad.com/2018/04/11/davenport-releases-reasons-for-former-fire-chiefs-termination/

https://wqad.com/2018/04/04/davenport-city-administrator-forbids-staff-from-speaking-with-ousted-fire-chief/

https://wqad.com/2017/12/01/davenport-refusing-to-re-instate-terminated-fire-chief-taking-fight-to-court/

https://wqad.com/2017/11/20/former-davenport-fire-chief-still-out-of-job-almost-two-weeks-after-commission-rules-in-her-favor/

https://wqad.com/2017/11/08/davenport-fire-chief-lynn-washburn-entitled-to-employment-with-city/

https://wqad.com/2017/07/28/washburn-out-as-davenport-fire-chief/