WESTMINSTER — As the commission hearings for suspended Fire Chief D'wayne Scott ended Monday, his attorney demanded that the embattled chief get his job back while the city's attorney countered that he should submit to a substance abuse test to determine his fitness for duty.
Scott, 51, was placed on administrative leave last May when he refused to take a psychological test to determine if alcohol abuse was affecting his job performance as some subordinates have alleged.
The allegations surfaced last year when the chief barred his firefighters from the riot zone of Los Angeles because he feared for their safety.
City officials, questioning Scott's judgment, asked him to take the psychological test. He refused on the grounds that it violated his right to privacy. Scott was suspended in July for 20 days when he did not withdraw his objections to the test and remains on administrative leave with pay.
As he has since the hearings by the city personnel commission began on Aug. 12, Scott's attorney argued Monday that the city has no law, written or implied, that requires an employee to submit to such a test.
"Give the chief his job, give him his dignity," attorney Richard J. Silber said in his closing arguments.
Linda Jensen, an attorney hired by the city, agreed that while the city has no law forcing an employee to take a psychological test, its officials have "the right to know" if an employee who "holds a safety-sensitive position" is a substance abuser.
"We always have the right . . . to make that inquiry for the welfare and for the safety of our employees and our community," Jensen said.
The three-member commission will recommend to the City Council whether the city has the right to order employees to undergo fitness evaluations.
The three-member panel also could make a recommendation, which could come as early as this week, regarding the chief's continued fitness for duty.
The council will then make its decision.