Alaska Firefighter Awarded $780k Over Promotion

An Alaska firefighter has been awarded $778,951.69 following a jury trial that began last summer.

Jeff Graham sued the City of Anchorage in Third Judicial District Court back in 2015 claiming he had been discriminated against on account of his age and Korean descent.

Graham claims he was passed over for promotion to engineer by younger less qualified individuals in violation of city policies and state law. He alleged the selection process was rife with favoritism.

The jury determined that the Anchorage Fire Department had not discriminated against Graham, but did breach its own rules that in turn constituted a breach of contract. The jury verdict awarded Graham the following:

  • Judgment Amount: $667,000.00
  • Pre-Judgment Interest: $24,668.63
  • Attorney Fees: $71,667.00
  • Court Costs: $15,616.06
  • Other Fees: $0.00
  • Judgment Total: $778,951.69
  • Post-Judgment Interest Rate: 4.25%

Alaska Public Media quoted Graham’s attorney, Jeff Jarvi, as saying:

  • “It’s really about the old boys club that is the Anchorage Fire Department.”
  • “It’s over 90 percent white men, and they can pick and choose who they want to pick and choose regardless of whether they’re the most qualified person for the job.”

APM quoted Deputy Chief Jodie Hettrick as saying:

  • “We’re a professional organization, we are not a good old boys club.”
  • “And this is an emergency services environment. We have to have people who, the first day they show up to sit in that seat, that may be the worst fire we have in the history of the municipality, so we have to make sure that they are a hundred percent qualified to do that work.”

Here is more on the story.

 

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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