HR Strange But True!
July 19, 2002

In Groton, Conn., firefighter Eric Ouellette, 27, hasn't been around the firehouse since June 30, when a CBS television crew whisked him away to become one of 12 houseguests on "Big Brother 3," the reality television show.

Now fire officials are taking the first steps of disciplinary action against him, according to a local newspaper, The Day of New London, Conn.

For the show, Ouellette is living with strangers in a Los Angeles house, cut off from the rest of the world and monitored at all times by a multitude of cameras and microphones. Once a week, the houseguests vote out a member until there's one left to collect the $500,000 prize.

Though his bosses hope Ouellette will do well, they believe he didn't follow procedure in taking the necessary time off and violated his contract and the department's rules and regulations. His union, which has erected a sign outside the fire department's headquarters in support of him, maintains Ouellette acted within his contractual rights when he swapped 20 shifts with other firefighters through September.

"Termination of your employment is being contemplated as a result of your willful misconduct involving several violations of the rules and regulations and the labor agreement," Chief Todd M. Paige wrote in a pre-disciplinary letter to Ouellette.

Thomas Eldridge, president of the firefighters' union, called all the alleged violations "frivolous and arbitrary claims."

Source: The Day newspaper of New London, Conn.

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