Broomfield employee faces possible firing over good deed

A Broomfield employee who independently reached out to a television station for help in reuniting a necklace — with a vial of ashes and attached photo — with its owner now is facing possible termination.

Melissa Masur, 26, has been on suspension since Feb. 8 when she was called into a meeting with her supervisor and a human resources representative in reference to how she handled the situation.

Masur, whostill is on paid suspension, and her attorney met with city officials Monday.

“They said they‘ll render a decision within the next 30 days,” Colleen Calandra, with Ramos Law Firm, said Tuesday.

In early February, Masur called FOX31 to see if the Problem Solvers would be interested in sharing a story about the necklace which was turned into the lost-and-found box at Paul Derda Recreation Center.

Yolanda Sears‘ daughter saw the television segment and immediately alerted her mother after recognizing the necklace as belonging to her. Sears subsequently was reunited with the remains of her husband of 46 years, Frank Axel Sears. Sears was a U.S. Navy veteran who died three years ago.

Masur, has worked at the Paul Derda Recreations Center for about eight years.

“The saddest part is (Yolanda) wouldn‘t have gotten those ashes back if it hadn‘t been for this,” Calandra said. “I think (Melissa) was really taken aback by the fact she was going to lose her job over this.”

Masur, who checks-in people at the front desk, said she was the one who answered the phone when Sears called to claim the necklace. Although she didn‘t place the voice at the time, she immediately recognized Sears when she came into the center.

“I was just happy the story had a happy ending,” Masur said. “That was my intention in doing this.”

In a letter dated Feb. 22, Recreation Director Clay Shuck recommends termination and says Masur violated several sections of the Personnel Merit System of the Broomfield Municipal Code, including one where employees are “prohibited from engaging in any conduct which could reflect unfavorably upon the city” and “insubordination, including failure or refusal to comply with an instruction, order, or direction of a supervisor unless such instruction, order, or direction is illegal or injurious to the employee‘s or general public‘s health and welfare.”

Broomfield does not comment on personnel issues, but issued the following statement Monday.

“Out of respect for our employees and the personnel process, Broomfield does not comment on specific personnel matters,” Anne Lane, director of communications and government affairs for Broomfield, said. “Our policy is to hire great employees who are committed to Broomfield‘s mission of providing great service to the community. We train and coach our employees to help them achieve success. Disciplinary action is a tool used after other efforts have failed and are usually applied in progressive steps.”

According to the Feb. 22 letter sent from Shuck, the necklace was turned into the lost-and-found on Feb. 3.

It stated Masur talked with other clerks about trying to find the owner of the necklace. One co-worker said she could post on a Facebook page, which she did, and that Masur mentioned ing Fox31 Problem Solvers, and suggests her co-worker advised against it.

“Without first ing your supervisor, without any authority to speak on behalf of Broomfield, and without any plan in place, you ed Fox 31 Problem Solvers,” the letter states.

Several days later ,she talked to her administrative supervisor about wanting to find the owner and calling the TV station for help. Fox had responded they wanted to do a story that evening.

“I said I don‘t feel comfortable,” Masur said. “This isn‘t about me. My goal was just to get the necklace reunited.”

She brought the matter to her supervisor, who told her anything like that would have to be cleared through Shuck. She asked Masur for the media information and asked her to stop talking to them, which Masur said she agreed to and complied with.

Since her suspension, Masur said she is trying to stay positive.

“I really like working there and I miss the interactions with my co-workers and the rec center patrons,” Masur said. “To be honest, it‘s been tough.”

In his letter, Shuck said he spent about four hours researching the situation and notifying appropriate staff, including communications and other rec staff who might be ed by media, and following up on the situation.

“Having a discussion prior to you reaching out to the media would have resulted in a more collaborative effort by the various City and County Departments to get the message out and minimized the disruption to overall operations,” the letter states.

Calandra said Masur felt the need to hire a lawyer because she felt uncomfortable attending meetings with city legal staff unrepresented.

Any future legal action will depend on the outcome of the situation.

“(Melissa) loves her job,” Calandra said. “She 100 percent wants to go back.”

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