Lifeguards fired for comments on group texting app - KMOV.com

Lifeguards fired for comments on group texting app

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Eight lifeguards fired between two Richmond Heights pools for using group texting app. (Credit: KMOV) Eight lifeguards fired between two Richmond Heights pools for using group texting app. (Credit: KMOV)
RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Eight people fired in the span of just a few days, and several other quitting in solidarity because of their friend's termination.

The friends were all lifeguards between "The Heights" pool in Richmond Heights and Maplewood Family Aquatic Center. 

News 4 spoke with one of the former lifeguards who quit before she was going to get fired. She wanted to keep her identity private. 

"Well if they can't work here then I'm not going to work here," she said. "We're there for each other and we're just a group of people who really, really care about each other."

The friends and co-workers were using a text chat app called GroupMe to talk to each other. They said it was mainly for sharing jokes and making plans to get together on the weekend. At some point, someone in the group chat got offended.

"Somebody took offense to a joke that wasn't intended to be serious and brought it to the attention of our upper management," she said.

Richmond Heights City Manager Amy Hamilton tells News 4 that the lifeguards violated the city's social media policy. A section of it said in part, "Employee conduct on and off duty cannot threaten order, safety, health or public respect for the city service." 

The former lifeguard who spoke out says she and the others feel they do not know what in their group chat triggered the problem. 

"There's no instances that I can remember ever of bullying or directly saying anything rude or offensive or sexually explicit in the group chat or considered illegal or could get anyone in trouble," she said.

The issue has created another problem for the city. Normal summer lifeguard staff would be 80 guards, but now 8 have been fired and another 11 have quit in solidarity. News 4 asked the city if this surprise shortage poses any safety issues. The City Manager assured the public that all pools are still operating safely and smoothly, however they are actively hiring.

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