Baltimore Dispatcher Claims Discrimination

A dispatcher with the Baltimore City Fire Department has filed suit in Federal court against the department , the Mayor and the City Council alleging discrimination and retaliation. Arthur Franklin Kirk III claims that the discrimination was on the basis of race, sex and medical condition. He seeks his job back along with back pay and $3 million in damages.

The lawsuit claims that the discrimination began in May of 2008 after he filed a race discrimination complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC declined to initiate an enforcement action over the issue and instead issued a “right to sue letter” to Kirk.

The discrimination against Kirk, an African American, allegedly consisted of the city:

  • “repeatedly investigating Plaintiff for alleged violence and misconduct in the workplace”
  • “allowing females at Plaintiff’s worksites to falsely accuse him of workplace violence and misconduct when they knew or should have known that the accusations were baseless”
  • “maintaining a lengthy investigation of the females’ claims”
  • “repeatedly harassing, embarrassing and humiliating Plaintiff in the workplace by disclosing to his fellow workers the false accusations against him by fellow employees”
  • “Nether Defendants nor their agents, servants, employees, members, supervisors, managers and officials initiated any such disciplinary actions or employment actions against similarly situated and employed white employees at the workplace who engaged in alleged behavior or conduct as Plaintiff was accused of being engaged in.”

Baltimore citypaper.com has reported that Kirk, 41, was hired in 2001 two years after his probation ended for a drug dealing conviction that included an 8 year sentence and four years of probation. He is the son of late Baltimore politician Del. Ruth Kirk.

In what may be a cut and paste error on the part of Kirk’s counsel, the complaint includes a bizarre allegation of pregnancy discrimination in so far as plaintiff is a male:

  • “The BDFD and the City of Baltimore, Defendants, and their agents, servants, employees, members, supervisors, managers and officials engaged in intentional employment discrimination and employment practices that had the effect of discriminating against Plaintiff, as alleged herein, on the basis of her medical condition, that is, suffered injuries and pain driving an official vehicle including but not limited to conditions creating a hostile work environment on the basis of her medical condition and pregnancy in violation of Title VII.”
  • “The BDFD and the City of Baltimore, Defendants, and their agents, servants, employees, members, supervisors, managers and officials engaged in intentional employment discrimination, employment practices that had the effect of discriminating against Plaintiff, as alleged herein, on the basis of his race, sex and medical condition, that is including but not limited to conditions creating a hostile work environment against Plaintiff on the basis of his race, sex and medical condition and pregnancy, in violation of Title VII, knowingly, intentionally and willfully retaliated against him”.

The allegations of pregnancy discrimination are made in other paragraphs as well, as is reference to plaintiff being male and female. It is in the section of the complaint that that refers to Kirk as a female that he asks to be reinstated. The news is reporting that Kirk was not fired. Here is a copy of the complaint. Kirk v Baltimore

More on the story.

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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