Kansas City Firefighter Prevails on Retaliation Claim

A Kansas City, Missouri firefighter who claims he was denied a promotion because of his race, has been awarded $296,183.91.

Eric Sanders filed suit claiming discrimination and retaliation. In February a jury ruled against him on two discrimination claims, but awarded him $90,000 on the retaliation claim.

Last week Jackson County Circuit Court Judge S. Margene Burnett awarded Sanders a total of $296,183.91, $90,000 for the jury award plus costs and attorneys fees.

Here is the judgment: judgementagainstKCMO

Here is a news clip on the story – which seems to be a bit slanted in Sander’s favor. It glosses over the fact that he lost the underlying discrimination suit. Incidentally, I have an article coming out in Firehouse soon titled The Retaliation Trap. It discusses how fire departments often inadvertently open themselves up to retaliation claims when an employee makes a claim of discrimination. It is not uncommon for an employee (such as Sanders in this case) to lose the underlying discrimination claim and yet prevail on the retaliation claim because of things that happen in the workplace after the initial claim is filed. Stay tuned!!!

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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