Club Valiants Settle Discrimination Suit With Philadelphia

The Club Valiants, an association of Black Philadelphia firefighters, have settled their discrimination lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia.

Last November, the Club Valiants and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a discrimination suit in Federal court against the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 22, and another organization named the Concerned American Fire Fighters Association (CAFFA), alleging discrimination. CAFFA, previously known as the Caucasian American Fire Fighters Association, was dropped as a defendant from the lawsuit in April 2010.

The main contention against the City was that fire department computers were used to post "racially harassing and discriminatory materials and comments" on the union's website, contributing to a hostile work environment. The Club Valiants were seeking unspecified damages. The City was dismissed from the suit on June 15, 2010 after agreeing to pay $15,000 in legal fees and "provide additional diversity training" with involvement and inputs from the Valiants and the NAACP. The city also agreed to adopt stricter computer policies and "re-post" the city's policy prohibiting use of city computers for "discriminatory purposes."

The Club Valiants' case against Local 22, which was not affected by the settlement, alleges that the union had become "a hostile, anti-minority, and offensive union for African American Fire Fighters." Local 22 denies the accusations and it is reported that both sides are in settlement negotiations.  A settlement could bring an end to years of hostility between the racial communities within the fire department. 

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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