Colorado City Settles Fire Department Race Discrimination Suit

The City of Aurora, Colorado has agreed to settle a race discrimination suit brought by probationary firefighters who washed out of the department during their first year for $480,000. The suit was filed in 2015 by two lateral hire firefighters who relocated from Kansas and Florida to Colorado to join the Aurora Fire Department.

The firefighters, Calvin Brown and Jesus Garcia, claim that their problems started after they witnessed an academy instructor “target and berate” an African American candidate and cooperated with a disciplinary investigation that resulted in the instructor being disciplined. Brown, who is African American, and Garcia, who is Hispanic, claim they were targeted by friends of the disciplined instructors and flunked on skills practical they previously excelled at.

Brown and Garcia filed suit alleging race discrimination and retaliation. Two additional African American firefighters, Christopher Henderson, and Sean Thomas, were added to the suit which alleged that minority hired were washing out of the department at three times the rate of white candidates. Besides the $480,000 payment, the city has agreed to provide diversity training to its fire academy staff for the next five years.


Here is a copy of the original complaint:  Brown v Aurora

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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