The court upheld the finding of the civil service commission and reversed the circuit court's decision to reinstate the firefighter. The circuit court had reasoned (1) that the city did not prove that the substance found in Giannini's vehicle was actually crack cocaine, and (2) that his "termination based solely on an arrest for possession of a controlled substance is inconsistent with past disciplinary actions . . . wherein other firefighters were not terminated when not only arrested for, but found guilty of, misdemeanor DUI."
Regarding the first point, the supreme court found that, in a civil context such as a disciplinary proceeding, a positive field test was sufficient credible evidence of the identity of the substance to support the Commission's conclusion that the substance was cocaine.
Addressing the second point, the supreme court reasoned: "The fact that the form of discipline imposed upon individuals committing a DUI offense was less severe than that imposed upon the Appellee is not cause for reversal of the Commission's decision in this case. As the City emphasizes, in comparing the Appellee to the DUI offenders, two distinctly different violations exist; one involves abuse of a legal substance and one involves acquisition and possession of an illegal substance."
Thus, the ruling of the Court, as set forth in syllabus point 6, was as follows:
A firefighter's possession of cocaine or crack cocaine constitutes misconduct of a substantial nature specifically related to and affecting the ability to perform tasks inherent in the employment and directly affecting the rights and interests of the public. A firefighter's job is characterized by his or her responsibility to the public, and the health and mental acuity of public safety personnel are of utmost significance.