LA City Firefighter Sues Claiming Continuing Reverse Discrimination

A white male Los Angeles City firefighter who sought a restraining order against a black female firefighter in 2017, and sued the city for reverse discrimination in 2018, has filed another suit against the city claiming he continues to be adversely affected and retaliated against. James Sharlein filed suit against the city last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The suit alleges Sharlein has been repeatedly and falsely accused of being racist and sexist after he complained that firefighter Ta’Ana Mitchell had threatened him with physical harm and harassed him. Quoting from the complaint:

  • The defendant City has continued to harass, discriminate, and/or retaliate against plaintiff including by repeatedly failing and refusing to follow its own practices, policies, and procedures, and the law, including failing and refusing to comply with Government Code §§3250 and 12940, et seq., Labor Code § 1102.5, et seq., and other state and federal constitutional provisions, statutes, rules, and regulations, and instead repeatedly violated those and other laws.
  • Defendant City has engaged, inter alia, in the following actions and course or pattern of conduct that, taken as a whole, materially and adversely affected the terms, conditions, or privileges of plaintiff’s employment, including a plethora of conduct that was and is reasonably likely to impair plaintiff’s job performance or prospects for advancement or promotion, including, inter alia:
  • subjecting plaintiff to multiple adverse transfers;
  • repeatedly denying plaintiff being transferred back to Fire Station 50 where he could avail himself promotional opportunities, as well as preventing and/or delaying plaintiff from applying for and/or denying other additional coveted and/or favorable job positions and assignments, including, inter alia, assignment as an LAFD helicopter Air Rescue paramedic, and promotion to the rank of Captain I and thereafter to higher ranks in the LAFD;
  • impairing and delaying the opportunity and ability for plaintiff to promote to the rank of Captain I and thereafter to higher ranks in the LAFD;
  • subjecting plaintiff to repeated ostracism;
  • moving plaintiff’s work locations to multiple less desirable work locations which has impeded and is anticipated to further impede plaintiff’s ability to advance in plaintiff’s career;
  • repeatedly removing from and/or denying plaintiff additional job responsibilities which would further plaintiff’s career;
  • repeatedly denying plaintiff additional employment benefits;
  • repeatedly making knowingly additional false, misleading, and/or malicious
  • statements regarding plaintiff which were and are reasonably calculated to harm or destroy the reputation, authority, and/or official standing of plaintiff, including supervisory personnel and other personnel of defendant City stating that plaintiff is a “racist” and “sexist”;
  • despite plaintiff properly and timely completing his EMS Update 2018 and the defendant City being properly notified plaintiff had completed that update, plaintiff received a letter from the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency in which plaintiff was advised that plaintiff’s paramedic accreditation had been suspended due to the failure of defendant City to properly notify that agency that plaintiff had completed the EMS Update 2018.

The complaint alleges violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (which is California’s primary anti-discrimination law); retaliation; and violations of the California Firefighters’ Procedural Bill of Rights. Here is a copy of the complaint:

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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