Suspended Providence Firefighter Sues Claiming Due Process Violation

A Providence firefighter who was suspended following his arrest on child solicitation charges, is suing the city for violating his due process rights.

Jason August was arrested in 2015 by members of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force following a six month investigation. He was charged with indecent solicitation of a minor and electronically disseminating indecent material to a minor. Those charges remain pending.

Following his arrest, August was suspended without pay but was never granted a hearing on his suspension. Earlier this year he was notified through his criminal attorneys that he was being terminated, but again he has not been granted a hearing.

From the complaint:

  • This case is a civil rights action concerning the unlawful and unconstitutional actions by the City of Providence by and through its Commissioner of Public Safety, Steven M. Pare.
  • The defendants summarily, and without notice, suspended without pay the plaintiff, Jason August from his position as a firefighter with the Providence Fire Department.
  • Pare’s action in suspending without pay August was deficient as a matter of law.
  • More specifically, August’s suspension without pay was in violation of his constitutional procedural due process rights as a public employee in that the City did not afford August a predeprivation hearing as required by the United States Supreme Court case of Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532 (1985).
  • Pare’s failure to follow the basic procedural due process suspension prerequisites in his attempt to suspend August makes that suspension void as a matter of law.

The complaint contains two counts, one alleging a violation of August’s procedural due process rights and the other alleging a violation of his substantive due process rights.

Here is a copy of the complaint: 2017 August v Providence

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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