Suit Claims Louisiana Fire Chief Discriminated Against Couple Over Relationship

Two former employees of a Louisiana fire department have filed suit claiming they were discriminated against and forced out of the department over their romantic relationship.

Stacie Dellucky and Frank Dellucky filed suit against the St. George Fire Protection District and Fire Chief Gerard Tarleton alleging violation of their First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The complaint alleges Frank was forced to resign in 2018, and Stacie was fired in 2020.

The facts as alleged in the complaint are hard to follow, but here are some quotes edited for clarity:

  • On May 8, 1999, … Stacie Dellucky married Chad Roberson.
  • Chad Roberson [has been] employed by St. George Fire Department since approximately 1997.
  • Stacie Dellucky separated from … Chad Roberson on March 28, 2017 and was divorced on May 16, 2018.
  • Stacie Dellucky was employed by St. George Fire Department in September 2014.
  • Stacie Dellucky married her current husband, Frank Dellucky, who worked at St. George Fire Department until his resignation in February 2018.
  • Stacie Dellucky began dating … Mr. Dellucky prior to her divorce from … Chad Roberson.
  • During this time nothing was said by Chief Gerard Tarleton about Plaintiffs dating.
  • While …Frank Dellucky was employed there, he was accused of causing the separation of… Stacie Dellucky from Chad Roberson, however, Plaintiffs were not dating or seeing each other prior to separation.
  • Frank Dellucky was forced out of the department by Defendant, Chief Tarleton, and forced to resign.
  • Over the course of two years, while … Frank Dellucky and… Stacie Dellucky dated, … Stacie Dellucky came to work and did her job without question.
  • Stacie Dellucky was always prompt and never complained.
  • Stacie Dellucky did, however, feel that her work environment was hostile.
  • Stacie Dellucky would close herself in her office to avoid the stares and rumors being spread mostly between chief officers. Defendant, Chief Tarleton, did nothing to stop this environment.
  • Stacie Dellucky never officially reported the hostility because Chief Tarleton just  wanted her to come to work and do her job and cause no issues.
  • Over the course of these two years, …Chad Roberson and… Stacie Dellucky never had any issues.
  • When Stacie Dellucky started dating Frank Dellucky, she was told by Chief Tarleton that she would never receive a promotion. Nothing else was said during the past two years.
  • On July 7, 2020, Stacie Dellucky was called into Chief Tarleton’s office.
  • Defendant, Tarleton started the conversation by telling Stacie Dellucky, that she married Frank Dellucky.
  • Defendant, Tarleton then informed Stacie Dellucky that because of that, [the marriage] we [the department and Stacie Dellucky] “had to part ways”.
  • Defendants by their conduct herein alleged, did deprive the plaintiffs of their rights, privileges and immunities secured to them by the laws of the United States, particularly their rights to Freedom of Association, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of sexual intimacy, Freedom from Religious Tests, and Freedoms to Privacy when Defendants disciplined them and constructively discharged them.
  • The conditions of employment became intolerable when Plaintiffs were ordered to change their living arrangements, ordered not to have contact with person they were living at the time and were demoted.

The complaint names Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry as a co-defendant although the legal basis for doing so is unclear. It also refers to Chad Robertson as a defendant in several places, although it does not appear he was actually named as a defendant in the case heading or the case file. For that reason and to make reading the material easier, the designation “defendant” was eliminated from the above quoted paragraphs in reference to Roberson.

The suit was filed in US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. Here is a copy of the complaint:

UPDATE: here is an amended complaint… still seems to have some issues:

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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