Connecticut Firefighter Files Race and Age Discrimination Suit

A Hartford, Connecticut firefighter who claims he was yelled at by one chief and assaulted by another has filed suit alleging race and age discrimination. Tony Milledge filed suit in US District Court last week naming the Hartford Fire Department and the City of Hartford as defendants.

Milledge, who is identified in the complaint as African American, claims that both chiefs are Caucasian and when he reported the behavior to two lieutenants he was “rebuffed.” He also claims a captain told him on several occasions that he ought to retire, which he took as a reference to the fact he is one of the oldest firefighters in Hartford.

The complaint includes two counts of race discrimination (one under federal law and one under state law), and one count of discrimination under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. According to the complaint:

  • In or about March of 2018, the plaintiff was on a call and Chief Tenney, a younger Caucasian supervisor, began harassing the plaintiff, yelling and screaming at him inches from his face.
  • In or about March of 2018, the plaintiff was on another call and was physically assaulted by Chief Jim Erickson, a Caucasian supervisor.
  • The plaintiff complained to Lt. Raymond Morgan and Lt. Trevon Nixon about the incident described in Paragraph 8 but his complaint was rebuffed.
  • Upon information and belief, the defendants never have tolerated such abuse of Caucasian firefighters by their superior officers.
  • The plaintiff is employed by the defendants as a firefighter and has been so employed continuously since July 19, 1999.
  • He is one of the oldest firefighters employed by the defendants.
  • In or about December 2017, Captain Lionel Thompson told the plaintiff on several occasions that he ought to retire.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

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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