Tennessee park ranger fired for dancing on the job

Tennessee park ranger fired for dancing on the job

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Dance like no one is watching. It's a popular term you may have heard, but for one Chattanooga Park Ranger, his freedom of expression cost him his job.

Deryl Nelson was fired after his supervisors saw video of him dancing on the job at Coolidge Park, according to Fox 25 affiliate WTVC in Chattanooga.

Mobile users, click here to see the video.

"I thought it was pretty funny actually. I don't think he should have gotten fired for it," said resident Lonnie Stinnett.

This video has become the talk of the town. NewsChannel 9 spoke with the woman, Melissa Parsons, who originally posted the video.

"As a parent and seeing all the parents that were covering their kids eyes and turning their heads away, it wasn't something you would expect to see in Coolidge Park or anywhere from a grown man, especially a man in uniform," said Parsons.

Parsons says when she saw Nelson start dancing, she pulled out her cell phone and caught it on video.

"He went all the way to the ground, he came back up from the ground, he was grabbing areas that you would see on a rated R movie," said Parsons.

Her video caught the attention of Nelson's employer who later terminated him for what the city calls, "conduct unbecoming a public employee".

We showed the video to some people on the street. Many said it is much ado about nothing and Nelson shouldn't have been fired.

"I think things may have gone a little bit too far. I think each incident has to be evaluated in it's own accord. You have to look into the person's background, their job performance," said Katherine Milling.

"I don't think he did anything that would make me cover my kid's eyes. He was just dancing. You see worse than that in television," said Stinnett.

NewsChannel 9 reviewed Nelson's background from the City of Chattanooga. Records show in 2013, Nelson was suspended for five days for "addressing inappropriate remarks to a co-worker".

NewsChannel9 reached out to Nelson to get his side of the story but he declined to do an on-camera interview.

Parsons says something needed to be done, whether it be fire him or reprimand him, but it was at the city's discretion to do so.

Officials issued this statement about his firing:

"While we do not comment on personnel matters, there were several factors that led to the decision to terminate the employee, including a history of behavior inappropriate for a Park Ranger in uniform as well as substandard job performance."
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