Three fire service employment related suits are in the news today, stretching from Ohio to Washington state.
In the first case, the city of Westlake, Ohio announced plans to appeal a trial court ruling that reinstated former Fire Chief Richard Pietrick to the rank of captain. In 2007, Chief Pietrick had been demoted to firefighter following an investigation into his having ordered on-duty subordinates perform auto repair work on his personal vehicles.
Chief Pietrick appealed the discipline to the civil service commission who assigned the case to an arbitrator. When the arbitrator ruled in the city’s favor Chief Pietrick appealed to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, who earlier this month sustained the discipline but ruled he should have been reinstated as a captain. The court also awarded him backpay for the difference between what he was paid as a firefighter and what he should have earned as a captain. Chief Pietrick is contemplating an appeal himself, because he contends he should have been reinstated as fire chief.
In the second case, an Iowa firefighter has filed suit in Federal court claiming he was passed over for promotion based on his age. Firefighter Brian Thiele contends that Sioux City Fire Chief Tom Everett selected a younger, less qualified person as fire marshal because that person better “fit the department’s 10-year plan for the position”. According to the suit, the chief made several statements to Thiele that could be construed as evidencing an age-related bias.
In the third case, a fire chief in Washington state who was terminated last year filed suit claiming wrongful termination, age discrimination, and termination without just cause. Fire Chief Bill Steele of the Union Gap Fire Department has fired in February, 2011. He filed suit in Yakima County Superior Court seeking $1.5 million in damages, including $96,000 in severance pay and wages that were wrongfully withheld.