What started as a bit of fun for 14 Southern Californian lifeguards, ended with them losing their jobs. Now sense prevails, and their jobs will be reinstated. However, not all the lifeguards will take the El Monte Council up on its offer.
The offending video, featured above, shows the lifeguards in their city-issued swimsuits, dancing in and under the water and on the diving boards at the Aquatic Center. The video is a spoof of the popular video "Gangnam Style" by Korean rapper PSY.
According to city officials, the workers violated employee conduct standards and prohibitions on the use of city property. They said that the terminations were due to the employees' unauthorized use of city resources for "their own personal benefit".
The lifeguards insisted that they were off the clock when they made their video.
Since it happened, there has been overwhelming support in favor of the lifeguards, with a recent El Monte City Council meeting packed with their supporters, and a Facebook page titled “Bring back the 14 El Monte Lifeguards” has 17,363 likes at today's date.
In a 3-2 vote, council members have recommended the interim City Manager, Dayle Keller, rehire the employees, pending a review of the center management, policies and procedures. Apparently the city is also looking into claims of nepotism and other issues regarding the Aquatic Center's management.
Keller has been encouraged to let the 14 lifeguards participate in a third-party review into what led to their terminations.
"If we're serious about getting to the bottom of this situation ... having their active participation is critical in this process," said Mayor Andre Quintero.
Despite this decision being made after 2 months, some lifeguards said they would probably not return to their posts.
20-year-old Amelia Rangel, a Baldwin Park resident, said, "I think I will just resign and have my record reclaimed because this is taking too long, and it's just too stressful."
"I just want to put it behind me already and move on," she added.
While senior lifeguard, Daniel Surmenian is still debating the decision on whether to return, he doubts the Aquatic Center would be a positive work environment should he choose to return.
"(I would go back) if I felt safe going back there and thought I wouldn't be targeted in any way," he said. "It would be difficult with the management right now."