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Mass. firefighter's Facebook firing heads to federal court

Richard Doherty said he began using the social media site to air his grievances with managment as they wouldn't listen

A firefighter who was terminated after venting his frustrations with management on Facebook plans to challenge the dismissal in federal court.

Richard Doherty's case could decide the limits of the First Amendment on the Internet, according to Fox News.

Doherty, of the Bourne, Mass., Fire Department, told the station he began using the social media site to air his grievances over management because "they just didn't want to hear any of our complaints or concerns."

However, when the posts came to light, the 17-year veteran was fired.

He called one administrator an "axx hole," and another a "dxxx head," according to the report. He also complained that a police officer had given information to a reporter without giving it to the fire department first, posting "Great job, jackass."

While no one from the department would comment on the pending litigation, town administrator Tom Guerino said in a memo, "This conduct undermines the ability to serve the public and undercuts the Town's ability to provide these services."

Guerino also said Doherty used a homosexual slur when referring to a friend.

"I find that Firefighter Doherty has disqualified himself from the ability to serve because he elected to post on the Internet a message that causes the public to question whether he can serve all of its citizens," he said in the memo.

Doherty's attorney Harold Lichten claimed the Internet postings were "private," and were meant only for his Facebook friends.

Fox News said a trial for the case could happen next year.




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