14 El Monte aquatic center employees fired for making a You Tube video parody of “Gangnam Style” were told yesterday, according to the group’s Facebook page, that the city will not be issuing them reinstatement letters.
El Monte city council voted October 16 to reinstate the lifeguards, but it wasn’t until November 9, according to a post shared on Facebook, that the guards received letters from the city to discuss reinstatement, with meetings taking place just over the past few days.
After meeting with city management, the following post was shared on the lifeguards’ Facebook page,
Manuel Carmona with HR stated that Human Resources and the city manager’s office agreed that the city WILL NOT BE ISSUING REINSTATEMENT LETTERS. Lifeguards have the option to resign now; however, HR is asking that resignation letters are dated today, but also state that the “effective” date of resignation be Sept. 5th (the date of our termination). Any lifeguards who want to go back to work will be reinstated if and only if they are recommended back by the independent investigator
The lifeguards, most of them college students, say that they filmed the video while off the clock, but were fired early September for using the city aquatic facility for private use and for wearing their uniforms in public while making the video. “Lifeguard Style” now has over two million views on You Tube, with clips from the video appearing in several Gangnam Style mashups.
Public support exploded for the lifeguards took their case to the public via Facebook and an online petition, both drawing thousands of “likes”, signatures, and comments of support. Most supporters argued that the harsh punishment did not fit the crime, suggesting instead that the City of El Monte should embrace the video an asset to the community rather than a punishable offense.
Even Korean pop star, Psy, whose video “Gangnam Style” video had been parodied by the lifeguards, weighed in on the lifeguards’ situation during an MTV interview,
“I’m begging you to do not fire, please,” implored Psy in his message to El Monte mayor, Andre Quintero.
Quintero, admitting that he hadn’t shared his feelings earlier with the public, said in early October that he didn’t think the punishment fit the crime.
“There was no crime,” conceded the mayor, recommending that the lifeguards be reinstated.
The final decision to bring back the lifeguards, however, ultimately lies with Interim City Manager, Dayle Keller, who was appointed to a term of no more than six months just days before the lifeguards were fired in early September.
If the fired lifeguards wish to return to work at this point, according to the Facebook post, they will need to wait for a recommendation by the independent investigator. Meanwhile, on the City of El Monte’s website, the positions of Lifeguard I and Instructor/Guard I are listed as open and continuous.
The City of El Monte Director of Human Resources did not immediately reply to an email Tuesday morning requesting comment.