Fired water worker disputes allegations

The city says it's cracking down on abuse of sick leave.
WARREN -- A city union leader fired for alleged dishonesty and falsification of records is fighting back.
Lee DeJacimo, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 74, was let go Wednesday from his job as a laborer with the water distribution plant on Laird Avenue.
DeJacimo filed a grievance Thursday.
City's dispute: The city said DeJacimo lied about being sick when he left work Sept. 21, only to show up that night on the sidelines of a Harding High School football game.
DeJacimo, an assistant coach, said his supervisor sent him home around 9:30 a.m. because of high blood sugar that resulted in sluggishness and blurred vision.
The AFSCME leader said he went home, took medication and slept for a few hours. He woke up feeling better and was dropped off at the school, from where he took the team bus to the game in Toledo.
"There was no intent to defraud anyone," he said. "I was sent home. I didn't go home sick on my own accord."
In a letter in DeJacimo's personnel file, the city says he was obligated by contract with Warren schools to be on the bus to Toledo by 1:30 p.m. DeJacimo said he's exempted from that rule, which is meant for teachers who coach sports and get out of work at 1:30 p.m.
It also states that city officials think DeJacimo took sick leave Sept. 7 and 14 to fulfill his obligation to attend games those nights.
DeJacimo said he took a vacation day one of those days and legitimately went home sick the other.
Crackdown: Fred Harris, safety service director, said DeJacimo is not being singled out. Harris said that two weeks before the firing, he sent a memo to other departments saying the city is cracking down on abuse of sick leave.
He added that some employees had been using sick time as if it were intended for vacations.
A hearing will be set and Harris will decide if DeJacimo should return to work. The matter will go to an arbitrator if it's not settled at that time.
DeJacimo opted not to sign a last chance agreement drafted by the city, saying he could retain employment if he agreed to certain conditions.
They include a 10-day suspension, a stipulation that he receive no work violations in the next two years and an agreement that neither he nor the union would file any grievances related to the case.
Also, it asks DeJacimo to admit that he falsified his request of absence form and lied during his predisciplinary hearing Oct. 1.
DeJacimo said he also was fired in April when the city said it didn't have any work for him after a shoulder injury.
The matter was settled without help from an arbitrator, and he was brought back a short time later and given two days' pay.