A former city social worker in Roanoke, VA is claiming that she was fired for her concealed carry permit that she sought because she’s a sexual assault survivor. What’s more, the 22-year-old woman claims her former employers had her escorted from the premises by police officers from the Roanoke Police Department (RPD) because she allegedly was deemed a “safety concern” even though she claims she did not bring a gun to work. Responding to the allegations by Chelsea Storm Durham, Roanoke City claims the firing of the social worker was not related to the exercising of her 2nd Amendment rights.
The story began about two months ago when Durham’s supervisor allegedly asked if there were domestic violence concerns related to Durham’s boyfriend. The supervisor also allegedly asked about guns in the home. The young woman does keep guns in her home, but she says, “I didn’t even carry on the job or the property even though officers told me daily I should be carrying going into this homes alone.” According to WSLS, Durham thinks her supervisor’s line of questioning “may have stemmed from pictures she posted of her hunting on social media.”
“That [gun] was NEVER on their property or in their building,” Durham wrote on Facebook (the woman goes by Storm Durham on her Facebook account, but the termination report lists her full name as Chelsea Storm Durham). “A gun that was never used for evil, but as protection as I am a survivor or sexual assault. Protection for being that white, 22-year-old, female. I am an American.”
Durham also alleges that she had been experiencing personal conflicts with her trainer and supervisor. For example, her trainer allegedly taught her a procedure, but then was reprimanded for following that procedure by her supervisor. When she complained to her trainer, Durham says she was sent a “nasty email” calling her “sloppy and unprofessional.” When Durham took the matter back to the supervisor, Durham claims that both the trainer and supervisor “threw her under the bus.”
When she was fired, Durham was given multiple reasons based on a copy of the full termination report. It says she was terminated due to “failing to perform tasks required by the job when efforts to correct issues related to job responsibilities have not been adhered to in the areas of training, missed work, documentation, time management, assessing safety, engaging families, workplace safety concerns, and professionalism.”
On social media, Durham has discussed details that go beyond the termination report. One issue was that she failed to close three cases a day during her first-year probationary period, but Durham claims these performance issues were caused by health issues and were excused by doctor’s notes. She also claims she exceeded expectations. The reason for the “dress code issue” was that she wore loafers to training in violation of dress code, but she claims to have been singled out since others at the meeting were allegedly wearing sweatpants. The Roanoke Times also listed reasons like arrogance, not paying attention to her trainer and attendance issues, all of which Durham deny.
Durham is upset because she believes she was also fired due to her concealed carry permit. When Durham was given the termination report listing the reasons for being fired, she noticed that one of the reasons listed was “workplace safety concerns.” When she asked about the meaning of that reason, the assistant director allegedly told Durham verbally that her “possession of a concealed weapons permit made her a safety risk in the building and for co-workers.”
After she was given the termination report, Durham said she was escorted out of the building by three Roanoke Police Department officers because she allegedly was a “safety risk.”
“They said it was a safety factor. She [my supervisor] said you’re a safety risk to our building due to having a concealed carry permit,” Durham said. “I said, my gun has never even been on the property. She said, ‘How do I know that?’ I said, ‘Search me!’ So then I told them, ‘This is discrimination, why are you treating me like a criminal?'”
Yes they were being briefed on the situation then stood outside the door to the office while I was fired. Then escorted me to my office and stood outside my office while I packed. Then escorted me to my car.
— Storm Durham (@chelstorrm) March 12, 2018
A copy of the police report contains a description of what transpired.
“Mr. Goss advised that she has a conceal carry permit and believed that she usually has a weapon in her vehicle…. We arrived at 1547 hours. The call was reported on the 3rd floor (Social Services Department). Upon arrival to the 3rd floor we were escorted to one of the offices in the back where we met with Mr. Goss and another employee advising us they wanted us there because they didn’t know how Ms. Durham was going to react to the situation.”
When Twitter users asked if Durham had “substantial proof” she was fired for any reason involving her concealed carry permit, she initially responded, “Yes, not showing that paper until I talk to my lawyer.” Now that the termination report has been released, she said during a March 13th Facebook video that she hopes to prove her case.
“There were other bullet points on that paper, yes. But if they gave me a list of those issues and dismissed me I would have been fine. But the fact that they brought my constitutional rights to carry a firearm and have my concealed carry permit into the situation was my problem. The way they treated me like a criminal was my problem. Not the other reasons, that was fine. I would have been like, ‘Okay, totally. I understand that I’m in my probationary period. You have the right to do that, that’s totally fine.’ But bringing my constitutional rights into the picture and telling me, and having me escorted by police, and having that stuff. No, no, no! That does not work for me. You can’t fire me for being a Christian and you can’t fire me for having a gun. I never have that gun on the property, or on my person, or during visits or anything like that. It’s just the fact that I have my concealed carry permit and that’s my constitutional right.”
Others Dispute Chelsea Storm Durham’s Allegations Against Roanoke City DSS
The young woman’s Facebook post and Twitter tweets went viral over the weekend. In response to the allegations by Chelsea Storm Durham, Roanoke city sent a statement to Snopes in which they denied that the former social worker’s concealed gun permit was a factor in her firing.
“A former employee of the City of Roanoke recently posted via social media assertions regarding the basis of her dismissal from City employment. Her posting has also been reported in other media. The City does not publicly comment on specific personnel matters. In light of these assertions, however, it is important to note that the City of Roanoke respects the Constitutional rights of its citizens and that the dismissal in question was not based upon anyone’s exercise of such rights.”
Snopes initially listed the claims by Durham as “unproven,” but changed that rating to false once Roanoke city’s HR director, Michele Vineyard sent out a memo reiterating their position on Durham’s claims.
“The actions taken by the City were not based upon the former employee’s right to hold a concealed carry permit for firearms,” wrote Vineyard. “I want to emphasize that we have no policy or procedure limiting the right of employees to hold concealed carry permits as authorized by the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. We respect and support the Constitutional rights of our employees as citizens.”
The accusations against Roanoke social services and the RPD has caused others on social media to dispute Durham’s story. Writing on Facebook, a person calling himself Alex King claims to have been told “another version of the events” and he says that Durham “is not who she is claiming to be.”
King claims Durham was allegedly “fired from three different daycares and had to be escorted out of one of them by the police because she threw a fit and locked herself into a room with the children.” Durham allegedly went on to work at Craig County Department of Social Services (DSS).
“[Durham] had shoddy work performance and was very dramatic and didn’t carry the values of the agency,” King wrote on Facebook. “I am unsure if she got fired or resigned because she knew what was coming, but she came over to Roanoke city DSS.”
King criticized Durham’s performance at Roanoke social services, claiming that she “was a nightmare and would not listen to any redirection and was unethical in her approach to child welfare.” King also claims that Durham “was unable to accept instructions and when she was corrected, she would throw royal fits and lock herself into an abandoned office and scream and cry like a toddler.”
King also gave one example in which he believes Durham was not following proper procedure.
“She always wanted to remove children and that is always the last resort if possible. In her videos, she stated that she got into trouble because she had to bring a coworker back to the office when she wanted to respond to an emergency. We are not first responders like she says. We cannot make people open the door for us, we can’t give first aid, we can’t take children without a proper procedure. She stated that the child’s life was in danger and she needed to be there. The cops report first to any danger in life. That in itself tells you that she didn’t understand our job or the scope of it. Nor did she understand the delicacy of it.”
A different Facebook user alleges that “several Roanoke city employees” witnessed Durham “drunk and screaming” while at Sidewinders. It’s alleged that she “still might have some assault charges brought against her for that incident.”
Durham has repeatedly stated on social media that all allegations concerning her relationship with her boyfriend are false. King claims that Durham had a dispute with her boyfriend after she was allegedly “caught” using the Tinder app. The boyfriend allegedly told Durham to move her belongings out, so she allegedly went dancing with a coworker at a country-themed location called Sidewinders.
“While there, [Durham] was dancing all up on a married man and pissed the wife off. The wife poured beer on her head and a scuffle ensued and Storm was pushed to the ground and got a busted lip. When she was outside talking to the cops, she was drunk and yelling that she worked for DSS and was a CPS worker and therefore shouldn’t get in trouble. She called the (ex)bf and he showed up and starting threatening the coworker, saying he would slit her throat.”
Similarly, another Facebook user calling himself Ben S Jackson claimed that Durham is “dating a psychopath” who “brought a gun to DSS when [she] got in trouble.” Like King, Jackson also claims the boyfriend “threatened to slit the throat of another worker.”
King claims this alleged incident was reported to Roanoke social services and that these concerns were allegedly the reason that Durham’s supervisor was asking about domestic violence two months ago. Also, King claimed Durham never reported another incident where her boyfriend allegedly showed up in the “back parking lot” one time after Durham was allegedly “reprimanded by the person training her.” King claims that someone allegedly overheard the boyfriend say that he had a gun on him.
King claimed the reason that Durham was “escorted out by police” was because she “is unstable and it was unknown if her [boyfriend] would show back up with a gun if she was allowed time to call him. Also, based on her previous behavior, it was unknown if she had her gun on her, or in her vehicle, and that is why she was a serious threat to the building.”
King also highlighted another Twitter user named Ally Lembo who claimed Durham was fired for other reasons than having a concealed carry license.
“It certainly wasn’t multiple issues involving your boyfriend, and it definitely wasn’t the fact that you constantly called out with ‘medical issues,'” wrote Lembo. “You were given multiple chances and even told that your actions were going to affect your job, and then throw a literal temper tantrum on Twitter citing your carry permit. MULTIPLE PEOPLE IN YOUR OFFICE HAD CONCEALED CARRY PERMITS. Girl. Take your pink slip with grace and learn from these mistakes when you find new employment.”
In response to these allegations on social media, Durham denies knowing Ben Jackson or any other individual who has attempted to discredit her statements. She says she was never fired from the daycare centers and claims she received a background check when she was transferred from Craig County DSS to Roanoke City DSS. Durham denies having any problems with her boyfriend, calling claims that he allegedly threatened a co-worker “BS.” Durham claims she does not “even have a parking ticket” and asks, “If my [boyfriend] actually brought a gun to the office or was even a ‘threat’ don’t ya think there would be a police report?”
2018 Virginia U.S. Senate Candidate Corey Stewart Supports Storm Durham
The young woman has found herself at the center of a rising political storm. Durham claims that Roanoke Social Services “should be ashamed of themselves” because she believes her firing was “definitely illegal.” She has also tied her firing to an alleged violation of her Second Amendment rights, which has drawn the support of those who oppose more gun control laws in the United States.
On Saturday, Durham sat down with Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart. On his Facebook page, Stewart wrote, “Storm Durham @chelstorrm was fired by the city of Roanoke, VA and escorted out by police simply b/c she’s a gun owner. We must fight to protect our #SecondAmendment rights…. Gun control is unconstitutional and will not save innocent lives.”
Speaking on Facebook, Durham hopes her story will become well-known and claims Stewart is trying to connect her with Fox News. In the meantime, Durham has launched a new YouTube channel called “The Conservative Storm.” She would like to become a spokesperson for the NRA, calls Sarah Palin one of her idols, and says she will not stop “until someone answers for punishing me and taking away my constitutional right.”
“I am an American. A gun owner,” Durham wrote. “And a proud sponsor of hunting across America, and I, nor my lawyers, judges, or support systems will rest until something is done.”
[Update March 13, 2018] Added additional details from new reports, including the full termination report, a police report, a Facebook video, and the full name of Chelsea Storm Durham.