Mass Judge Denies Stay of Civil Service Reinstatement Order

A Suffolk County Superior Court judge has refused the request of the Town of Brookline, Massachusetts to stay a Massachusetts Civil Service Commission order to reinstate an African American firefighter who was terminated in 2016. The case involves firefighter Gerald Alston, whose legal problems have been chronicled here on three prior occasions.

Alston accused the town of being racist, and retaliating against him after he complained about a fire officer’s use of the N-word. His termination for threatening colleagues, use of illegal drugs at work, and rebuffing town efforts to get counseling was initially upheld by the Civil Service Commission. At the time the Commission refused to consider whether racial bias played a role in Alston’s discipline, focusing solely on his behavior.

Alston appealed the decision to Suffolk County Superior Court where Judge Douglas H. Wilkins ordered the Commission to reconsider the case including whether Alston was in fact the victim of racial bias. In February, the Commission ordered Alston reinstated. That prompted the town to appeal the case back to Suffolk County Superior Court.

On Monday, Judge Wilkins denied the town’s request for a stay of the Commission’s order while the appeal is heard. Judge Wilkins found the town failed to demonstrate the likelihood of “irreparable harm” necessary for the stay.

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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