Wilmington Settles Reverse Discrimination Claims

The City of Wilmington has agreed to settle the claims of five white firefighters who allege they were the victims of reverse discrimination in the enforcement of the city’s residency rule.

The five firefighters, Jonathan Hitch, Stephen Sherlock, Adam Risden, James Grieco, and Thomas Cunningham, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claiming they were being illegally harassed by investigations that were initiated in 2016 to ensure compliance with the city’s residency requirements. The firefighters claims that then Fire Chief Anthony Goode was responsible for the harassment.

The settlement calls for each of the firefighters to recieve $15,000, for a total of $75,000. In exchange, the firefighters agreed to dropped all claims against the city and Chief Goode.

The City has agreed to provide anti-harassment training to Wilmington Fire Department personnel, and all future residency investigations for fire department personnel will be conducted by the City’s Residency Review Board.

Chief Goode is now retired. 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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