Providence Fire Settles Discrimination Suit for $7500

The City of Providence has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a Hispanic firefighter who claims he was discriminated against.

Renato Alarcon filed suit in 2015 claiming that his treatment in Engine 10 was discriminatory and led to his transfer in 2013. The suit filed in US District Court named three firefighter-colleagues, Captain Joseph Fontaine, Lieutenant Steve Nunes, and Firefighter Craig Martin.

In a pre-trial memo, Alarcon claims he:

  • was “subjected to discrimination based on his race. He had been subjected to racial slurs. He had been transferred unjustifiably. His complaints to higher authority had been ignored. His union also failed to proceed with a grievance which he had requested.”
  • “is a very well respected and hard working firefighter. He had experienced his problems only when working at one location. He now works in another location where he gets along very will fellow firefighters. There simply had been no justification for the discriminatory treatment which he endured.

The city disputed Alarcon’s allegations, arguing that his “insubordination, violent outbursts, confrontational nature, overall threat to the work environment” led to his transfer.

Alarcon’s allegations are contained in this trial memo: Alarcon v City of Providence PLAINTIFF PT MEMO

The city’s responses are contained in their trial memo: Alarcon v City of Providence DEFENSE PT MEMO

The case was scheduled to be tried last September, but the parties opted to continue settlement talks. Alarcon, who remains employed with the Providence Fire Department, will receive $7,500.

More on the story.

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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