Arizona Firefighter Sues Fire District Over Termination

A former Arizona firefighter who was terminated in 2019 after the department eliminated its wildland program, is suing the fire district for wrongful termination, retaliation, and an assortment of wage and hour claims. 

Jason Craven filed suit in Navajo County Superior Court on December 9, 2019 naming the Clay Springs-Pinedale Fire District Board and Fire Chief Robert Garvin as defendants. The suit was removed to US District Court for the District of Arizona yesterday.

Craven claims that after he complained about “gross mismanagement of District funds, inconsistent employment practices and failure to pay employees for work performed” the defendants began retaliating against him. The retaliation included withholding information from him, excluding him from meetings, telling coworkers that he was an alcoholic, and making other disparaging comments about him. The culmination of the retaliation was the elimination of the district’s “Wildland Division”, which in turn led to Craven being terminated.

As explained in the complaint:

  • In discharging Plaintiff, Defendants willfully, knowingly and intentionally discriminated against him because of his good faith concerns that Defendants were violating State and Federal law and his opposition to the same.  
  • Defendants’ stated reasons for its actions were false and pretextual.         

The suit contains ten counts, including:

  • Statutory Wrongful Discharge and Violation of Public Policy
  • Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 violation of First and Fourteenth Amendments (free speech and liberty interests)
  • Violations of the FLSA (minimum wage, unpaid hours)
  • FLSA retaliation
  • Violation of A.R.S. §§ 23-350, et seq., Arizona Wage Act
  • Arizona Minimum Wage Act
  • Intentional Interference with Employment Relationship
  • Defamation
  • False Light – Invasion of Privacy
  • Violation of A.R.S. § 23-1411

Here is a copy of the notice of removal and the original state court complaint:

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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