The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that a fire captain who was fired for using his work email account to send emails to his Christian firefighter’s fellowship group can file a lawsuit against his former employer. The state’s highest court decided last Thursday that the merits of former Spokane Valley Fire Department Captain Jon Sprague’s case were strong enough that a trial should decide if Sprague’s rights were violated. “Sprague has met his initial burden to show that the SVFD’s restrictions on his speech violated the First Amendment,” a court document states.
“On remand, the burden will shift to SVFD to show by preponderance of the evidence that it would have reached the same decision as to (Sprague’s) employment termination even in the absence of the protected conduct.” According to The Spokesman-Review, a trial will determine if Sprague is entitled to damages caused by his employment termination in 2012 for repeatedly using his work email to send emails to the Spokane Christian Firefighters Fellowship group when he was explicitly warned not to. READ MORE