OMAHA, Neb. —
Omaha Fire Union President Steve LeClair should get his job back with the department, according to an arbitrator ruling.
The announcement was made Tuesday.
LeClair was terminated after the city said the Human Resources Department did a thorough investigation into LeClair’s conduct involving an incident at Tiger Tom’s Pub in November 2018.
An African-American woman told police she felt a punch in her back while sitting at the bar and heard LeClair whisper a racist comment after she rejected his advances.
Surveillance video from the bar showed the woman being shoved in the back.
LeClair was sentenced six months probation in June on misdemeanor charges of assault and battery and disorderly conduct.
LeClair has remained president of Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 385.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, LeClair regretted that “an incident took place”, but insisted he did not punch the woman, and said he is “not a subscriber to racist attitudes.”
“The action taken by the city to terminate my employment was, simply put, politically motivated,” said LeClair in a statement. “I’m satisfied the Arbitrator reviewed the evidence and determined I was not afforded due process.”
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert stood by the decision to fire LeClair, saying she vehemently disagrees with the arbitrator’s decision.
Fire Chief Dan Olsen fired LeClair in February.
“The only true victim in this case — the African American woman who was sexually propositioned, racially insulted by LeClair stating “white power” to her, and then physically assaulted by him — has in our opinion, been victimized again,” said Stothert in a statement.
The Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Association issued the following statement:
“The leaders and members of Local 385 are pleased with the results of the arbitration, which has reinstated Steve LeClair as a fire fighter and will allow him to resume his career on the Omaha Fire Department and his nearly 18 years of service protecting the citizens of Omaha. The arbitration process worked exactly as it should for all city employees, providing a fair and unbiased result based on the evidence that was presented. Although the process has been long, tiresome and, at times, distracting, Local 385 has remained steadfast in our advocacy for the safe working conditions of our fire fighters as they protect the citizens of Omaha. We look forward to moving on from this unfortunate incident and continuing to provide excellent emergency services to the citizens of Omaha.”