Everett Settles Race Discrimination Suit for $375k

The city of Everett, Washington has agreed to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by a firefighter last year for $375,000. Firefighter Jason O. Anderson claims he was subjected to a variety of derogatory comments and names during his eighteen-year career. When he reported the conduct, he says the city took no action and his colleagues shunned him.

The suit filed in January, 2021 alleged race discrimination and retaliation. Anderson, who is black, claims colleagues and supervisors repeatedly used racist sterotypes and names. When he complained, supervisors told him he needed to “suck it up.”

Anderson reportedly left the department last November. The city council approved the $375,000 settlement yesterday. Quoting from the settlement agreement:

  • Mr. Anderson and the City acknowledge that settlement of these claims is important for Mr. Anderson to move forward with his life, for the City to direct its efforts and resources to serving is residents, and for both Mr. Anderson and the City to conserve the cost that could be incurred as the result of protracted litigation.
  • Mr. Anderson and the City acknowledge that their respective decisions to enter into this Agreement do not constitute an admission by any party that he or it has acted wrongfully with respect to any other party or any other person or entity or that any party has any rights whatsoever against any other party.
  • Mr. Anderson and the City further acknowledge that the settlement is not to be construed as an admission of liability by the other, which is denied.

The HeraldNet quoted Everett Fire Chief David DeMarco as saying in a statement:

  • Our work to apply those values to improving diversity, equity and inclusion is extensive and ongoing.
  • We are committed to ensuring all our members understand and recognize the unique challenges faced by minority members.

Here is a copy of the settlement.

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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