Back to the Nov-Dec 2021 issue

Can the City Hire a Firefighter With a Felony Conviction?

Hiring

Q: Can the city hire someone as a firefighter if they have a felony conviction?

A firefighter helmet.LMC: The city is not specifically prohibited from hiring someone with a felony conviction as a firefighter; however, the person may not be able to obtain a firefighter license if they have a felony conviction. The law governing firefighter licensure states that the licensing board may revoke, suspend, or deny a license if the firefighter or applicant “has been convicted of any arson-related charge or a felony recognized by the board as a crime that would disqualify the licensee from participating in the profession of firefighting.” Only full-time firefighters are required to be licensed. Paid on-call, part-time, and volunteer firefighters may receive or apply for a license, but it is optional under the statute.

The city is required to conduct a criminal history background check on all applicants for employment with the fire department. However, criminal history data may be used in assessing fire department applicants only if the criminal history data is directly related to the position of employment sought or currently held. For more information, see chapter 2 of the HR Reference Manual at www.lmc.org/hiring.

Answered by Human Resources Director Laura Kushner: lkushner@lmc.org

ADA

A person taking their temperature.Q: Does “long COVID” qualify as a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act?

LMC: Yes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a guidance document classifying “long COVID” (also known as “post-acute COVID-19” or “long haulers”) as a disability under sections 504 and 1557 of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Long COVID is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a post-COVID condition. For long COVID to qualify as a disability, it must substantially limit major life activities. Long COVID qualifies as a disability under the ADA when:

Symptoms involve a physical or mental impairment of lung, heart, kidney, neurological, and/or circulatory damage in addition to lingering emotional illness.

Symptoms substantially limit one or more major life activities, including caring for yourself, performing manual tasks, speaking, concentrating, communicating, and working.

Individuals with long COVID may be entitled to “reasonable accommodations” from governmental entities, including cities. For example, you might allow a customer who finds it too tiring to stand in line to sit down without losing their place in line. To learn more, read the HHS guidance at www.ada.gov/long_covid_joint_guidance.pdf.

Answered by Law Clerk Christina Benson: cbenson@lmc.org

Emergency Management

Q: Is our city covered for any insurance claims that result from sending employees to another state under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact?

The words "are you covered?" under torn brown kraft paper.LMC: Yes. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is a state-to-state mutual aid agreement under which a state can send workers to another state to assist with large emergencies. Under a law the League helped pass, Minnesota Statutes, Section 192.91 was amended to provide that city employees providing assistance under EMAC are “employees of the state” of Minnesota for liability purposes. Under the EMAC law, employees of a state sending assistance “shall be considered agents of the requesting state for tort liability and immunity purposes.”

In other words, the state requesting assistance is responsible for liability claims arising from the actions of your employees who are providing assistance, assuming such employees are acting in “good faith.” Regardless of any liability coverage available through the state of Minnesota or the state requesting assistance, if your city has liability coverage from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT), that covers employees acting in another state, as well as in U.S. territories and Canada. A city will also be covered by its LMCIT workers’ compensation and property coverages when employees are acting in another state. Learn more about EMAC at www.lmc.org/emergencies.

Answered by Risk Management Attorney Chris Smith: csmith@lmc.org