NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – A Newton Falls city employee claims he was unjustly fired after questioning the ethics of the interim city manager’s involvement in a proposal to change their health insurance.
Tuesday afternoon, 10 people protested the firing of Matt Evans outside the Newton Falls Municipal building.
“I’m here to support the employees and try to get Matt Evans brought back to work after he was fired for speaking out at the council meeting,” said protester Jim Luonuansuu.
Reporter Stan Boney: “Do you feel like you were treated unfairly?”
Evans: “Absolutely, and so does everyone else I work with in this city.”
Evans worked for Newton Falls for seven years, most recently with the electric department. At the last city council meeting, he had questions about a new proposed health care plan.
“I asked if a woman, Debra Lovell, is tied to Pamela Priddy, and if Pamela Priddy had ties to the current insurance plan they were trying to instill upon us,” Evans said.
Priddy is Newton Falls’ interim city manager. Demands that Priddy be fired were among the protest signs.
“Two days later, I was pulled into the city manager’s office and I was terminated from employment,” Evans said.
According to Evans, Priddy told him he was being terminated because he had violated city policy on “workplace bullying” and “no gossip.”
“That is what my termination paper states,” Evans said.
Evans has hired an attorney and has appealed his firing to the Newton Falls Civil Service Commission. He also has not been offered his job back.
“My current employment is I am a captain with the Windham Fire Department. My guys have been great. I worked a 12 hour day yesterday to try and make some money for the holidays,” Evans said.
And that’s why people were protesting on Tuesday.
Protester Anna Eby: “To support Matt Evans who was fired for asking a question at the meeting. I don’t understand why he was fired.”
Boney: “Do you think he was wrongly fired?”
Eby: “Absolutely, wrongly fired.”
We tried contacting Priddy but never heard back.
Evans said he was one of maybe eight city employees who spoke at the meeting, and while one was given a written reprimand, he was the only one terminated.
There were no employees involved in Tuesday’s protest because we were told they feared for their jobs.
As far as the new health care plan, Evans said it’ll cost each employee a lot more than the current plan.