Rochester Settles Firefighter’s Racism Suit

The sensational lawsuit by Rochester firefighter Jerrod Jones has been settled for $150,000, or $521,000, depending on your perspective. Jones claimed he was the victim of race discrimination that culminated in a white captain ordering him to attend a racist party in 2022 while on-duty.

The true nature of the party became a contentious point, as Jones’ supporters accused the homeowners of hosting a Juneteenth spoof, while the homeowners, a dentist and his wife, vehemently deny the racist allegations. They characterized the party’s theme as liberal-bashing. The couple has gone so far as to have sued Jones’ attorney and an elected official for defamation, claiming the dental practice and their standing in the community has been irreparably harmed. That suit remains unaffected by Jones’ settlement.

The captain who took Jones to the party resigned while under investigation. Jones, who was a 14-year veteran when the party occurred, has reportedly been on extended leave and will remain so under the terms of the settlement. He will receive a payment of $75,000 immediately, and another $75,000 in four years when he reaches retirement age. He will receive his salary of $92,000 a year in the interim, which apparently adds up to a total of $521k when the exact dates and amounts are factored in.

According to RochesterFirst, both sides released the following joint statement about the settlement:

  • On July 7, 2022, Jerrod Jones was a Firefighter working Truck #4 for the Rochester Fire Department.
  • On that day, he and other firefighters on Truck #4 were taken to a private event at a residence on East Avenue, in accordance with the wishes and direction of the newly assigned Captain of Truck #4. While this event was within Truck# 4’s district, it was wholly inappropriate for the Captain to have taken the firefighters of Truck #4 to this event on-duty. This event involved wholly inappropriate political and racial overtones.
  • Following this event, Firefighter Jones commenced suit against the City of Rochester asserting various claims stemming from this incident. Today the parties are pleased to announce that this lawsuit has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.
  • As part of this resolution, Mr. Jones has elected not to return to his duties as a firefighter. This was Mr. Jones’s decision and the City is respectful of his choice. The City wishes Mr. Jones the very best in his future endeavors and thanks him for his years of service to the City and its citizens.
  • The parties express their appreciation to each other for their respective efforts which led to this mutually satisfactory settlement as Mr. Jones moves forward positively and so too does the Rochester Fire Department under the leadership and direction of Chief Napolitano.

According to WHAM ABC13, the settlement was $150k. According to the Democrat and Chronicle, the settlement was $521k.  That sounds about right given the contentious and polarizing nature of the allegations.

Here is our earlier coverage:

Rochester NY Firefighter Sues Over Racist Party

Rochester NY Firefighter Sues Claiming Discrimination After Attending Party

Dentist’s Defamation Suit Contradicts Rochester Firefighter’s Lawsuit Over Juneteenth Spoof

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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