Connecticut Firefighter Settles Race Discrimination Claims for $290k

A New Britain firefighter who was disciplined for taking down a gallery of white fire chiefs’ photos to protest the absence of a photo of the department’s first black fire chief, has settled his discrimination claim with the city.

Daylon Hudson claims that the city’s refusal to include a photo of former Fire Chief Mark Carr among a collection of fire chiefs at the department’s headquarters was race based. Chief Carr served as fire chief from 2004 to 2012 after a career with the London Fire Brigade.

Hudson claims he and some of his colleagues were upset that Chief Carr’s photo did not hang alongside the other former chiefs, prompting him to ask Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter about it. Chief Ronalter indicated that he was waiting for the wall to be painted. The next day Hudson removed all the portraits from the wall because he believed the fire chief was being racist. He was suspended for four days.

Hudson then filed a claim a race discrimination with the city’s human rights commission. Following an investigation into racial tensions in the department, Mayor Erin Stewart placed Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter on leave last August. He opted to retire last September.

The New Britain Common Council approved a settlement of $290,000 to Hudson. The settlement requires Hudson to resign from the department and release the city from all further claims related to his employment.

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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