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
    Promotion.

    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.

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