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Fire Service and Public Safety Legal Issues Blog by Curt Varone
Updated: 54 min 26 sec ago

San Francisco Firefighters Allege Reverse Sex Discrimination

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 18:03
Eight San Francisco firefighters who were transferred following allegations of sexual harassment at their firehouse in 2016, have filed suit claiming they were discriminated and retaliated against. BC Samson Lai, Deputy Chief Raymond Guzman, Capt. John Rocco, Lt. David Thompson, Lt. Michael Thompson, Lt. Luis Ibarra-Rivera, FF Richard Miles and FF Daniel Molloy filed suit yesterday in San Francisco County Superior Court.
Categories: Legal

KCK Firefighter Alleges Race and Disability Discrimination

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:42
A Kansas City Kansas firefighter who is facing termination has filed suit alleging race and disability discrimination. Jyan Harris filed suit this week in US District Court against the Kansas City Fire Department, Wyandotte County/City of Kansas City, and Kansas City Firefighters IAFF Local 64...
Categories: Legal

California Fire Department Suing Ferrara Over Problem Aerial

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 19:55
The South Lake Tahoe Fire Department is suing Ferrara Fire Apparatus claiming that a $1 million aerial ladder they took delivery of in 2014 is a lemon. The apparatus, which has been out of service for the past 13 months, has experienced a number of mechanical problems that Ferrara initially addressed.
Categories: Legal

Are Battalion Chiefs Subject to The Highly Compensated Employee Exemption

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 17:23
Today's burning question: I am a city manager and I just read about an exception in the Fair Labor Standards Act that exempts anyone making over $100,000 per year from eligibility for overtime. Do our Battalion Chiefs and perhaps even our company officers meet the criteria to fall under this exemption? Answer: Your line officers probably do not but your staff officers may.
Categories: Legal

10th Circuit Rules Denver Fire Officer Did Not Violate ADA Confidentiality

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 14:18
The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling that a Denver Fire Department captain did not violate the Americans With Disabilities Act by informing firefighters that a colleague was suffering from PTSD. The decision handed down on February 7, 2018 upheld on narrow factual grounds a US District Court ruling...
Categories: Legal

Court Orders Tampa Fire To Reinstate Victim of Discrimination

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 19:15
A female firefighter who was fired a day after she filed suit for discrimination and retaliation, has been awarded her job back. Yesterday, US District Court Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich ordered the Tampa Fire Department to reinstate firefighter Tanja Vidovic.
Categories: Legal

Cleveland Accuses Firefighter’s Attorney Of Misconduct

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 20:14
An already complicated retaliation case involving the Cleveland Fire Department just took a turn for the more complicated when attorneys for the city moved to disqualify the law firm representing the firefighter who brought the suit. Former Battalion Chief Sean DeCrane claims he was passed over for promotion and retaliated against by city officials who ...
Categories: Legal

Burning Question: Are you staying or leaving

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 18:20
Today’s burning question: Can a senior officer ask a firefighter his/her intentions on whether they plan to stay or leave the department? Would this qualify as harassment or discrimination? Answer: There is no law that prohibits an officer from asking a firefighter about his/her future plans. There is nothing inherently harassing nor discriminatory in the question itself. However...
Categories: Legal

Arkansas Firefighter Claims FMLA Retaliation Over Changes to Shift Trade Policy

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 16:07
A former Arkansas firefighter has filed suit claiming he was retaliated against for having used a combination of intermittent leave under the FMLA and shift-trades to care for his dying child. Eric Andersen filed suit against the Springdale Fire Department last week in federal court.
Categories: Legal

Illinois Firefighter Sues For Discrimination and Retaliation

Sun, 02/11/2018 - 17:54
An Illinois firefighter who was elected to the city council and ran unsuccessfully for Mayor, is now suing the fire department, the fire chief and his opponent-mayor alleging he was discriminated against on account of his Mexican heritage, and retaliated against for his political efforts.
Categories: Legal

Court Rules Against Fired Tennessee Fire Chief

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 18:43
A federal court in Tennessee has ruled against a former fire chief who claimed his termination last year violated his due process and 1st Amendment rights. Cocke County Fire Chief William Smallwood was fired last March by County Mayor Crystal Ottinge
Categories: Legal

Can Substitutions Impact Exempt Executive Status

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 19:55
Today’s burning question: If a battalion chief who is classified as an exempt executive is allowed to trade time with captains or lieutenants that are "non-exempt", would that have any bearing on whether the battalion chief qualifies as exempt or not? Answer: There are two tests to determine whether an employee is an exempt executive: the salary test and the primary duty test. An employee must satisfy both tests in order to be exempt and ineligible for overtime under the FLSA.
Categories: Legal

Texas Fire Department Sued for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 21:28
A Texas fire department is being sued for sexually harassing, retaliating and terminating a female office worker whose husband is also a firefighter. Julie Thomas filed suit against The Woodland Township Fire Department in US District Court. Thomas, who served as a Customer Service Representative for the department, claims ...
Categories: Legal

San Francisco Settles With Firefighter Wrongly Accused Of Running Over Victim

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 20:42
The San Francisco firefighter who was initially thought to have run over and killed a crash victim at the scene of an Asiana Airlines crash in 2013, has settled her suit against the city. Elyse Duckett’s suit accused fire officials of publically identifying her has the person driving the crash truck that ran over and ...
Categories: Legal

Ohio Firefighters On Leave Following Off Duty Haircutting Incident

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 15:08
Two Ohio firefighters have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into a viral video involving the punishment of a girl by cutting her hair. The firefighters, who are married, reportedly work for the Middleton Township Fire Department.
Categories: Legal

Ousted Cal City Fire Chief Sues

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 18:08
A fire chief who was fired last December one day after he assisted with a marijuana bust, has filed suit alleging he was terminated because he refused to cave in to political pressure from city officials to be more lenient to marijuana business.
Categories: Legal

Washington Court of Appeals Upholds Fireman’s Rule

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 17:59
The Washington State Court of Appeals handed down a decision last month reaffirming the application of the Fireman’s Rule as a prohibition against suits by emergency responders in the state of Washington. The suit was filed by a firefighter, Wynn Loiland, who was struck by a vehicle while at the scene of a previous accident. At the time the roads were slippery and several accidents had previously occurred in addition to the original accident.
Categories: Legal

Fairfax County’s Highest Female Officer Resigns From Women’s Program Officer Position

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 19:23
The highest ranking female officer in Fairfax County Fire and Rescue has resigned as the point-person in the department's Women's Program, turning in a scathing letter to Fire Chief Richard Bowers that accuses the department of tolerating and defending sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment.
Categories: Legal

Akron Firefighters’ Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Stealing $500k From Union

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 17:32
The former treasurer for Akron Firefighters, IAFF Local 330, has pled guilty to stealing $500,000 from the local. Joseph Ruhlin, 41, pled to charges of theft in office and records tampering.
Categories: Legal

Florida Court Affirms No Gender Discrimination in Chief’s Promotion, But Retaliation Claim Survives

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 18:37
Florida’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the claims of a female division chief that she was discriminated against when she was not selected as fire chief for Marion County Fire Rescue. However, the appeals court reversed the trial court on her retaliation claim.
Categories: Legal