Firefighters Sue Denver Fire For Race and Gender Discrimination

A current and a former Denver firefighter have filed suit against the city alleging race and gender discrimination. Da Lesha Allen and Charmaine Cassie filed suit last week in US District Court for the District of Colorado.

Allen began the fire academy in January 22, 2019, and was dismissed in October 24, 2019. Cassie began in July, 2018 but was unable to complete the academy due to injury. According to the complaint, she subsequently completed the academy. Both allege that the department has a “long history of sex and racial discrimination, which continues to persist today,” and that as African American women they were the victims of discrimination.

The complaint lists seven counts, five alleging federal discrimination and retaliation and two alleging a violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. It alleges the women were subjected to “hyper-scrutiny” to which male and/or caucasian female employees were not subjected to. Here is a copy of the complaint:

According to 9News, a city document paints a different picture of Allen’s allegations. The document, referred to as a “departmental order” dated October 24, 2019 states that Allen was fired because she “repeatedly displayed inabilities to comprehend basic skills, operate safely in the capacity of Firefighter IV, and on several occasions [had] been disrespectful and dismissive to co-workers and supervisors.” She was a probationary employee at the time.

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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