Suit Alleges City Discriminated When it Denied Lieutenant an Accidental Disability Pension

An EMS lieutenant with the Providence Fire Department who was awarded $889,842 in 2016 over sexual harassment and retaliation claims, has filed suit against the city again, this time claiming the decision by the City Retirement Board to deny her request for accidental disability benefits constitutes illegal discrimination.

Lori Franchina filed suit today in US District Court for the District of Rhode Island alleging disability discrimination under state and federal law, sex discrimination under state and federal law, and a violation of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

According to the complaint, Franchina filed for accidental disability benefits from the city in 2011 prior to filing suit, claiming she was totally disabled to due stress related to workplace harassment. The city sent her to a number of Independent Medical Examiners all of whom concluded she was permanently and totally disabled, and that “work-related incidents and/or ‘difficulty’ with her co- workers/superiors were substantial causing factors of her disability.”

In 2013, the city denied her request instead granting her ordinary disability benefits, which resulted in considerably lower monthly payments. According to the complaint, after she prevailed in court, Franchina sought to have the retirement board reconsider its decision to deny her accidental disability benefits. The board refused to reopen the matter claiming that it “had been litigated to conclusion.”

Here is a copy of the 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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