Administrator: Ex-Simpsonville chief not entitled to grievance - FOX Carolina 21

Ex-Simpsonville chief not entitled to grievance, administrator says

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Former Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell talks to FOX Carolina after the City Council voted to fire him. (Dec. 28, 2012/FOX Carolina) Former Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell talks to FOX Carolina after the City Council voted to fire him. (Dec. 28, 2012/FOX Carolina)
Simpsonville City Administrator Russell Hawes talks with FOX Carolina after a council meeting. (Jan. 8, 2013/FOX Carolina) Simpsonville City Administrator Russell Hawes talks with FOX Carolina after a council meeting. (Jan. 8, 2013/FOX Carolina)
SIMPSONVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Fired Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell is not entitled to a grievance, according to a letter from City Administrator Russell Hawes.

Grounsell had been on the job for three months when the City Council voted to fire him Dec. 28.

After the vote, Grounsell said the decision to fire him was because he tried to clean up the department and butted heads with Assistant Police Chief Colleen O'Neil. However, Simpsonville Mayor Perry Eichor said the decision was made because Grounsell was not a good fit and failed to work well with the city's administration.

On Jan. 7, Grounsell presented his grievance to Hawes. In the letter, Grounsell alleged an inappropriate relationship between Fire Chief Wesley Williams and Assistant Police Chief Colleen O'Neil, which violated a number of department policies.

Grounsell said that when he reported the relationship to Hawes, the city administrator turned on him.

"If they call me uncooperative because I reported ethical, moral, policy and legal violations, then I am guilty of this," Grounsell said in the 24-page grievance, which was presented to city leaders. "With the suspension of the assistant chief and fire chief, all I have to say is you were warned. Now it is your turn to do the right thing."

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In a letter dated Jan. 10, Hawes responded to Grounsell's letter, saying he was not entitled to a grievance because he was in his probationary period when he was fired.

Hawes went on to say in the letter that Grounsell acknowledged that it was a vital part of his job to work with the City Council, administrator and human resources director. He said that Grounsell's challenging of the mayor's manhood and religion, and questioning the intelligence of City Council members, showed he is unable to fulfill that duty.

At the end of the letter, Hawes said even if Grounsell was entitled to a grievance it would have been denied.

Grounsell told FOX Carolina that according to a form sent to him three days after he was fired, he has rights under the employee grievance and appeal procedure. He said the form also gave instructions on how to exercise those rights.

"They continue to send mixed messages, which is what draws suspicion on what and why they are doing this to me," Grounsell said in a statement to FOX Carolina.

Grounsell said he plans to attend a City Council meeting set for Tuesday night.

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