NJ Deputy Chief Sues For Reverse Discrimination

A deputy chief in Plainfield, New Jersey is suing the city and his fire chief for reverse discrimination. Deputy Chief Jeffrey Courtney alleges that Fire Chief Frank Tidwell discriminated against him on account of his race. Chief Courtney is white.

MyCentralJersey.com quoted from the lawsuit as saying: “Tidwell has made it clear that he does not want a white person to take the position of chief upon his retirement and has continually blocked” Chief Courtney’s promotion to chief after Chief Tidwell retires.

The suit also claims that Chief Tidwell asked black firefighters “if they could take orders from a white man.”

Chief Tidwell was recently cleared of allegations of misappropriation of funds and misuse of authority. He was quoted by MyCentralJersey.com as saying:

  • “I’m a very fair individual, I see everyone the same.”
  • “No one is treated better than the other. I don’t look at race, religion, sexuality. I believe in treating every employee with the respect that they are worthy of.”
  • “White officers are treated the same as black firefighters.”
  • “I’ve showed no discrimination at all in my five to six years as fire chief and even prior to becoming fire chief.”

I have not been able to access a copy of the complaint, so it is unclear exactly what legal theories Chief Courtney is pursuing. It appears the suit was filed in New Jersey state court.

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.
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