by Michael Lowrey
From a Charlotte Observer editorial:
When the city of Charlotte fired Fire Department investigator Crystal Eschert in late 2014 for a pair of inflammatory Facebook posts, this editorial board suspected she was actually being punished for earlier concerns she raised about the safety of a CFD building on North Graham Street.
At the least, we thought the city seemed to be setting a low bar for what kind of social media post could get employees fired. Would one-time poor choices result in termination when they should result in a severe but lesser punishment?
As it turns out, no. That’s a standard that seemed to apply only to Eschert.
The Observer’s Steve Harrison reported Monday that since Eschert’s firing, at least six other city employees have faced accusations that they made inflammatory social media posts. Some had warning letters placed in their files, while others were given verbal warnings, according to Charlotte City Council member Claire Fallon. Unlike Eschert, none of the employees was fired.
A reminder: In her Facebook posts, Eschert questioned whether the White House or civil rights advocates would have spoken up if the victim in the 2014 Ferguson, Mo., police shooting were white. “If you’re a thug and worthless to society, it’s not race – You’re just a waste no matter what religion, race or sex you are!” she wrote.
Was Eschert being targeted because she was a whistleblower? It’s always looked that way, and the latest developments don’t change that perception — and it’s a perception that I’m not exactly sure that CFD management and by extension city leadership are all that interested in changing.