BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Melissa Masur wasn’t fired after all, at least not yet.
The 26-year old woman walked into her discipline hearing with the City and County of Broomfield Monday morning believing she was going to be terminated. “I am more hopeful that I was last week,” said Masur.
Her story featured by the Problem Solvers last Friday led to a huge public backlash on social media against Broomfield and the Paul Derda Recreation Center.
“You have a Good Samaritan who tried to help and to fire her for that just seems, just seems odd to me,” said Colleen Calandra, an attorney with the Ramos Law firm who represents Masur.
Calanda told FOX31, Broomfield has decided to suspend Masur with pay for up to 30 days while it decides whether to give Masur her job back or let her go.
Masur has worked at the Paul Derda Recreation Center in Broomfield for nearly eight years. In early February, she called FOX31 to see if the Problem Solvers would be interested in sharing a story about a necklace discovered at the gym’s lost and found.
Tied to the necklace was a vial of ashes and a picture of a man later identified as Frank Sears. Sears was a U.S. military veteran who passed away three years ago.
“I can’t even imagine how the person who lost it would feel. Obviously, it was super sentimental and I just wanted that story to be finished. I wanted this (necklace) to get reunited,” said Masur, explaining her decision to call the Problem Solvers. “If I thought this would even be an issue, I wouldn’t have done it.”
The necklace belongs to Frank’s widow, Yolanda Sears, who — thanks to media coverage — was soon reunited with the memento she lost at the gym.
“I cried,” said Sears, describing her reaction when she was reunited with her necklace. “She (Masur) is such a wonderful person in her heart. She knew that she was doing the right thing to give it to the right person and that’s all she did.”
But Masur’s boss Clay Shuck saw it differently.
Shuck is the director of recreation, wellness and senior services at the Paul Derda Recreation Center and on Feb. 22, he sent Masur a disciplinary notice recommending she be terminated.
His letter states she violated the Broomfield Municipal Code for employees partly because, “City employees are prohibited from engaging in any conduct which could reflect unfavorably upon the city.”
Masur was confused.
“Emotionally, I’ve been all over the place because I thought I was doing the right thing. Everything I was taught growing up I had to actually question,” she said last Friday.
Shuck’s disciplinary letter states, “Without first contacting your supervisor … and without any plan in place, you contacted the FOX31 Problem Solvers.”
Masur told FOX31, “In the city and county of Broomfield, if you get hired there at some point, you get brought up the notion of the Broomfield Way. And what the Broomfield Way is, is the employee needs to go above and beyond in servicing the public. So with that mentality, I was like, I knew FOX31 Problem Solvers, I know they do stories like this.”
The city and county of Broomfield would soon seek media help itself, posting a picture of the lost necklace on Twitter, writing, “Help Broomfield find the rightful owner of this sentimental necklace.” Broomfield even asked followers to contact Clay Shuck at his email address.
But in his disciplinary letter, Shuck wrote, “I spent approximately four hours of time researching the situation, notifying appropriate staff within the City and County of Broomfield including Communications and other Recreation staff who may be contacted by the media.”
When the Problem Solvers informed Yolanda Sears that Shuck has recommended firing Masur, she was incredulous.
“She should be praised at work for what she [has] done,” Yolanda said. The 74-year-old widow is adamant that terminating a city employee for good intentions would be unkind and mean-spirited.
“It’s very, very hard to believe that this person wants to fire such a wonderful worker,” Yolanda said.
When Masur showed up for her discipline hearing Monday morning, half-a-dozen people were waiting for her in the lobby of Broomfield’s main government building to give her moral support.
Each had heard about her story on FOX31 or through social media and were outraged.
“She did something that anybody in Broomfield would’ve done so everybody is feeling that this should not have been an action where you face termination for bringing somebody joy,” said Anshie Dahr.
She is one of many residents who told Fox 31 they sent messages to the Paul Derda Recreations Center Facebook page complaining about its treatment toward Masur.
When Masur walked out of the hearing she told supporters, “I have a positive outlook that this going to work out thanks to your support and the community’s support.”
A spokeswoman for Broomfield told the Problem Solvers that the city doesn’t comment on personnel matters.