Indy Firefighter Alleges Race Discrimination and Retaliation

An Indianapolis firefighter has filed suit in federal court claiming he was “set up” by co-workers on “fabricated allegations” after he complained about being denied a training opportunity because of his race.

Jason Hardister filed suit last week against the City of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Fire Department and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department alleging race discrimination and retaliation.

According to the complaint, Hardister’s problems began in May, 2014 when a captain was selected to attend an arson training class that Hardister believed should have been given to him. At the time Hardister had 9 years on the department and was a “Fire Analyst/Investigator”.

Hardister, who is African-American, claims the captain was allowed to attend the class because he is white. He also claims he had more seniority than the captain which should have been the determining factor according to department policy. He filed a grievance over the matter, but lost.

Following his grievance, Hardister began receiving less desirable assignments and was denied more lucrative assignments. He claims the captain, in conjunction with other ranking officers, conspired to wrongfully implicate him in a non-existent marijuana-grow operation that sustained a fire. The false allegations led to Harister being removed from the Fire Investigations Unit and “demoted” to engineer.

Hardister seeks reinstatement to the Fire Investigation Unit and damages. Here is a copy of the complaint. Hardister v Indianapolis

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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