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Firefighter to be fired for getting married


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June 8, 2005



A South Carolina firefighter is scheduled to lose his job this summer after he marries the daughter of a department captain June 18.


According to a statement from the International Association of Fire Fighters, Matt Cooper, a firefighter with the City of Rock Hill, will be fired because of what it calls an "anti-family" reading of a city anti-nepotism policy.


The union plans a press conference today to demand the city amend its policy so Cooper can stay on the job.


"The city has no reason to terminate this employee," said Michael Parrotta, president of the South Carolina Professional Fire Fighters Association. "The city's anti-nepotism policy as it is being applied to Matt's situation is arbitrary and doesn't reflect family values or the values of this community."


Joseph James is the pastor who will marry Cooper and his fianc?e, Brooke Lowery, later this month.


"Matt Cooper is being terminated not because of a poor work record or violation of a morals clause," James said. "He is being fired because of his commitment to the love of his life before God and the world in marriage. We must call upon the City of Rock Hill to do what is right and what is just - change the policy that punishes Matt with the loss of his job because he is doing the right thing in marrying the woman he loves."


The 1983 city policy prevents employment of family members within the same department. The union points out Cooper and his future father-in-law work in different stations and that the anti-nepotism law was meant to prevent the appointment of family members to high-level positions regardless of merit - which is not occurring in this case.


"Without adequate justification, the city of Rock Hill is forcing a loyal and admirable fire fighter to choose between the two loves of his life," added Parrotta. "On behalf of fighters throughout South Carolina and across this country, we ask that reasonable accommodations be made by the city to allow Mr. Cooper to retain his job."


According to the statement, Cooper has tried unsuccessfully to work with city officials to be able to retain his job.

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