Buffalo Firefighters Awarded $2.5 Million in Reverse Discrimination Suit

Not sure how we missed this last week, but twelve white firefighters from Buffalo were awarded $2.5 million in a reverse discrimination suit that was filed back in 2007. The suit alleged that the city purposely allowed promotional lists to expire so that new lists with more African Americans on it could be used.

State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek ruled in favor of the firefighters on the merits of the case back in October, 2010, citing testimony by a city official who said the decision to let the list expire was based on concerns about a possible suit by MOCHA (Men of Color Helping All Society).  The judge did not consider damages at the time.

MOCHA has challenged tests in the past, in particular the tests for 1998 and 2002. In 2005 a Federal judge concluded that there was not enough evidence to find that the city intentionally discriminated against African Americans.

On February 7, 2012, Judge Michalek awarded the damages to the twelve plaintiffs, who will receive between $49,000 and $500,000 plus an award of between $20-30k each of emotional distress.

More on the story.


About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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