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Lawyer hopes to get 2 workers back on job after residency firing



Published: Sat, October 21, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The deal would allow the workers to return until court challenges are settled.

By AMANDA GARRETT

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A union lawyer representing two city safety workers who were fired for violating Warren's residency law is working to get them back on the job by next week.

Representatives from the Ohio Patrolman's Benevolent Association and the Warren Law Department are working on an agreement that would allow Detective Michael Currington and dispatcher Andrew Chovan to return to work for the time being, union lawyer S. Randall Weltman said.

As it stands, the agreement would allow the two men to return until several lawsuits challenging residency legislation are decided, Weltman said.

The agreement could be complete as early as Monday, Weltman said.

"We would like to have them back to work as early as next week," he said.

City law department officials did not return calls to comment Friday.

Were fired

Currington and Chovan were discharged Oct. 4 by Service-Safety Director William Douglas Franklin for violating Warren's residency law, which requires that all employees live within the city limits.

The two men filed change-of-address forms after a new state law was passed May 1 that prohibited municipalities from requiring residency as a condition of employment.

Several Ohio cities, including Youngstown, Cleveland and Akron, have filed legislation challenging the law in court.

The outcome of those lawsuits will determine the fate of Currington and Chovan, Weltman said.

If the courts uphold the Ohio law, Currington and Chovan will be able to retain their jobs while living outside Warren city limits.

However, if the court strikes down the law, the two men could be discharged again or required to move back into Warren, Weltman said.

Their records

Both Currington and Chovan had mostly clean employment records before they were discharged, receiving several attendance awards and letters of commendation.

Franklin told The Vindicator on Oct. 6 that the city was finding it "a challenge" to staff the dispatchers' office after Chovan's dismissal.

The ideal number of dispatchers for the Wa & not;rren Police Department is 12, Franklin said.

Now, the department has 11 dispatchers, but only 10 are working because one staff member is on family leave.

Meanwhile, Currington's dismissal has not presented any staffing problems, acting Police Chief Michael Vugrincic said.




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