Ohio Firefighter Alleges Retaliation Over Refusing Prior Promotion

Today’s burning question: I’m a black firefighter and in September, 2010 I placed 5th on a promotional exam for lieutenant. Last December, the chief offered me a promotion to lieutenant, but when it was disclosed that I was selected out of turn because of my race, I turned it down. Now the chief has gone past me on the list, and I think it’s because I didn’t take the promotion last year. Do I have a case?

In a nutshell, that is the story of firefighter William Phelps of the Berea Fire Department in Berea, Ohio. Dave Statter covered this one quite well, so I won’t repeat it all here – suffice it to say: you can’t make this stuff up!!!!

Here’s is Dave’s take.

Here is a copy of FF Phelp’s complaint. phelpslawsuit

More on the story.

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.
  • ukfbbuff

    My 2 cents from Calif..

    My FD allows up to three “Turn Downs” for a

    If William Phelps is being hired off of a
    “Currently” Used Exam List (ie., years 2010-2012) he should be given the job offer.

    If on the other hand, if this Promotion is off of a “New” List (Newly established after Septemebr 5, 2011) then he has to Compete with all of the other candidates.


Check Also

RI Fire Chief Indicted for Sexual Assault

The former chief of the Chopmist Hill Fire Department has been indicted by a Providence County Grand Jury on eight counts of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. The indictment charges Timothy Homerston, 52, with four counts of second-degree sexual assault, three counts of simple assault, and one count of indecent exposure.

Michigan Fire Department Sued For Whistleblower Violation

A Michigan firefighter who was terminated last August has filed a whistleblower suit claiming his dismissal was retaliation for reporting the fire chief for responding to an alarm after drinking. Matt Halicek claims his problems began last November when Clare Fire Chief Jim Chapman responded on a mutual aid run with alcohol on his breath.