A Detroit EMS supervisor fired earlier this year after posting racially offensive messages on his Facebook page won his job back, despite opposition from the fire department, and returned to work this week.
Now, Lt. Tim Goodman, a 13-year veteran, plans to apologize for his actions as ordered by an arbitrator in the case.
The move to reinstate Goodman, who remains a supervisor but was demoted from captain by the arbitrator, leaves looming concerns for some in the area.
“We’re not happy about it,” said Amy Doukoure, an attorney for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).
She called posts on his social media page racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic. One meme showed a bomb in a ring box with the words: “He went to Jihad,” according to a screenshot provided by CAIR-MI to the Free Press. Another meme showed a man eating a fistful of bacon and says: “HOW I CELEBRATE RAMADAN.” Others made derogatory comments about Asians and Mexicans.
One of screenshots provided to the Free Press shows a photo of a banner promoting free cell phones for people on food stamps or Medicaid. “In case you were wondering what the hell is wrong with America, I took this pic an hour ago at the corner of Greenfield and Grand River in Deeeeetroit,” Goodman posted in 2014.
Goodman, who declined to comment, was fired in June and returned to work Sunday. He will not receive back pay.
The arbitrator in the case, Thomas Barnes, determined Goodman must undergo sensitivity training, perform community service for one year and apologize to the department and CAIR, said Catherine Farrell, an attorney for Michigan Association of Fire Fighters, the union representing Goodman.
Farrell said Goodman apologized during the arbitration hearing on Nov. 6 and had no malice. He had a strong work record, years of experience and no prior discipline, she said.
“We were pleased we were able to get his job back,” Farrell said. “The union, of course, doesn’t condone the kind of posts that were on his Facebook account.”
She said the city showed six posts during the hearing.
Doukoure, who represents a Muslim EMT and alleges Goodman unfairly disciplined him, said there were dozens of posts that could have been presented by the city.
The city of Detroit didn’t immediately comment on why more weren’t used.
Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones declined to speak to the Free Press but released a statement.
“The Fire Department moved for termination of the EMS supervisor that made racially insensitive and offensive Facebook posts. The termination was then subject to the labor arbitration process under the collective bargaining agreement. The arbitrator decided to reinstate this individual against the recommendation of the Department,” he said. “The arbitrator dictated that this employee must return to work, where he will return to work and the rank of the employee. The Executive Fire Commissioner is compelled to comply with the Order, which was against his recommendation, and there will be no further comment on the matter.”
Doukoure said CAIR-MI has reached out to the fire department a couple of times since the decision to reinstate Goodman was made but has not received a response.
She said in a statement: “There is no place in public service for anyone who holds disdain for others based on their religion, race or background.”
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