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Judge again rules against City of Omaha in Steve LeClair case

Judge again rules against City of Omaha in Steve LeClair case

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Steve LeClair (copy)

The city has been fighting Steve LeClair’s reinstatement.

A judge won’t change course on her previous conclusion that the City of Omaha’s appeal of a fire union leader’s reinstatement was “frivolous,” according to a court order.

Last month, the city asked Douglas County District Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf to rescind her Aug. 3 order in which she rebuked the city for its appeal of an arbitrator’s decision to give Omaha firefighters union President Steve LeClair his job back.

But on Thursday, Retelsdorf overruled that request. The city has 30 days to file a notice of appeal.

“We are ready to get Steve back to work,” said John Corrigan, an attorney representing the union. “He could go back tomorrow if the city would give up their frivolous contention.”

The city has previously indicated that it will appeal the decision to a higher court. An attorney representing the city could not be immediately reached Friday.

In November 2018, LeClair put a forearm into the back of a Black woman at a bar and muttered “white power,” according to the woman.

LeClair, who pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault, contends that he said “what white power?” in a clumsy attempt to point out the diversity of the crowd at Tiger Tom’s that night.

In November 2019, an arbitrator determined that termination was too extreme and reduced LeClair’s punishment to a five-day suspension. The city appealed.

In March, Retelsdorf upheld the arbitrator’s decision. Then last month, the judge ordered the city to pay the union’s legal fees, saying the appeal was “unjustified.”

Retelsdorf has already awarded the union $16,000 for legal fees. The city’s tab continues to grow: $250,000 and counting as of August for the Baird Holm attorneys handling the city’s case and $110,000 for back pay for LeClair, which continues to accrue.

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Reece covers Sarpy County for The World-Herald. He's a born-and-raised Nebraskan and UNL grad who spent time in Oklahoma and Virginia before returning home. Follow him on Twitter @reecereports. Phone: 402-444-1127

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