Denver Firefighter Claims ADA Violation For PTSD

A Denver firefighter has filed suit claiming the department’s handling of his post-traumatic stress disorder violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, and that the reaction of his officers to his military reserve commitment violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

David Perez filed suit last week in US District Court for the District of Colorado against the City and County of Denver. He is a nine year veteran of the Denver Fire Department and combat veteran with eight years of active duty with the US Marine Corp. Perez, who served two tours in Iraq, remains a member of the Marine Corp. Reserve.

According to the complaint, Perez was suffering from PTSD in 2011. As other personnel became aware of his condition Perez claims he was subjected him to a hostile work environment, emotional distress and humiliation. He eventually accepted a transfer to fire prevention to get away from the hostility. The complaint states: “The DFD did not take the proper actions to ensure that the diagnosis and condition of David Perez having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was safeguarded and kept confidential and that Mr. Perez was not discriminated against due to his condition.”

The suit also claims that when a training opportunity with the Marines became available in 2012/2013 that required five (5) months of leave from the fire department, his supervisors created a hostile work environment for him. Quoting from the complaint:

Captain Derek Warlum questioned Mr. Perez’s position as a firefighter and had stated “what does he want to do, be a firefighter or be a reservist” which violates the USERRA Act of 1994 (as codified in title 38, United States Code, section §4311 and Employees Benefits as codified in title 20, United States Code, sections § 1002.18-32

The suit seeks “damages for emotional distress, humiliation, loss of income and enjoyment of life, and other pain and suffering on all claims”, plus exemplary/punitive damages, costs and attorneys fees.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Perez v Denver.154452.1.0

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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