Firefighter's Facebook post about Islam sparks HFD investigation

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- An HFD employee is under investigation and on administrative duty because of something he posted on his personal Facebook page.

The post is set to a backdrop of an American flag and reads, "Proud Infidel. F*** Islam and F*** Muslims." It was posted to his timeline earlier this month, and at one point, it was even his profile picture.

When we brought it to the attention of the Houston Fire Department, Chief Terry Garrison responded with a statement, "As soon as I was made aware of the situation, I adopted a complaint on the matter, launching an internal investigation."

"Your rights of freedom of speech and freedom of expression stop when you work for somebody, to the extent that there's policies in place," said KTRK Legal Analyst, Joel Androphy.

Androphy said employers compile social media policies largely to protect their own reputations.

"When you have a job, like as a fire(fighter), you can express yourself but you have to do it within reason," said Androphy. "You cannot start criticizing people of other races (or religions), no matter how you may feel."

The City of Houston's explicit social media policy extends to all of its employees, including 4,000 HFD personnel.

The post isn't sitting well with members of Houston's Muslim community which relies on public servants to answer the call of duty in a fair and equitable manner.

"Our public servants don't just protect one part of society. They protect all of us. They help all of us. They work for all of us. And it's very important for us to all feel comfortable dealing with people that have some authority over us," said Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll.

The city's legal department will review the case and decide what happens next.
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