A Ridgewood, NJ firefighter who claims he was denied a promotion because he reported safety violations at two incidents, has been awarded $3.5 million by a jury. The unanimous verdict was announced yesterday with the entire $3.5 million being awarded for emotional distress.
Kevin Reilly claims he was passed over for promotion to lieutenant because he reported that his superiors violated safety requirements. The two incidents were a structure fire in 2009 and a hazmat incident in 2007.
At the structure fire, Reilly claims a deputy chief ordered him to leave the structure when his low-air alarm went off, but required him to turn over his radio and flashlight. At the hazmat incident, Reilly claims he and other firefighters were told to clean up a spill that should have been left for a hazmat team.
Reilly claims that he reported his concerns to a deputy chief and the fire chief. When he later sought promotion to lieutenant, he was bypassed by less senior and less qualified individuals.