Suit Alleges Discrimination Based on Position Designation

The Phoenix Fire Department is facing a lawsuit by a civilian employee who claims she was misclassified into a lower-paid position and denied a promotion, on account of her race. Melissa Green filed suit in US District Court for the District of Arizona today claiming she performed duties that qualified her for a “User Tech” position, but was paid as an “Administrative Aide.”

According to Green, she served in the Administrative Aide position for eight and one-half years, at roughly $20,000 per year less than the position that her work duties qualified her for. Her responsibilities included handling cellphone-related matters for the department. This included upgrading devices, configuring devices, and overseeing cell-based modems for fire and EMS units.  When the city became aware she was engaged in this work (which should have been assigned to a “User Tech”), they took those responsibilities away from her.

Green pointed to other employees who she claims were treated differently under the same circumstances. The suit alleges race discrimination, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, promissory estoppel, a state law wage and hour violation, and violation of the Arizona Civil Rights Act. The complaint also references gender discrimination at various points, but does not include a specific gender discrimination claim. She is seeking a minimum of $160,000 in damages.

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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