Stamford Settles Suit Clearing Way for Promotions

A lawsuit challenging changes to the promotional process within the Stamford Fire Department, has been settled. Lieutenants Kevin Dingle and Bruce Wagoner, and firefighters Robert Pickering and Brian Whitbread filed the suit in 2018 challenging the city’s use of rounding and/or banding scores on promotional exams in 2017.

The suit claimed that rounding and banding violated civil service rules and the city charter’s requirement for merit-based testing. Early in the suit, the Connecticut Superior Court ordered a stay of promotions until the matter could be settled. As a result, there have been no promotions to lieutenant or captain since 2017. According to the Stamford Advocate, the suit cost each side over $800,000 in legal fees. In the meantime, the civil service rules have been amended to expressly allow rounding and banding.

The settlement requires the city to pay the firefighters a total of $250,000, and clears the way for six lieutenants and three captains to be promoted without using rounding or banding. Pickering and Whitbread are among those promoted to lieutenant, and Wagoner is among those promoted to captain. Lt. Dingle, was not promoted but was provided with an explanation by a neutral monitor as to why his scores would not have been enough for him to be among the top three. The members being promoted will receive retroactive dates for seniority purposes, but no back pay.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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