Firefighter accuses IFD of racial discrimination in lawsuit

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 29, 2016)– A firefighter with the Indianapolis Fire Department is suing his employer for alleged rampant racial discrimination, according to our partners at the Indianapolis Star.

Eleven-year Indy firefighter Jason Hardister filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing some of his unit supervisors of harassment, retaliation and providing training to a white employee with less seniority. He also alleges a demotion based on fabricated criminal allegations.

He says a series of events orchestrated by his superiors led to his demotion from the arson unit. He told the Star he never was charged with any crimes.

“To this day, I still haven’t been given a piece of paper saying, ‘This is what you’re being investigated for,’ ” said Hardister to the Star, who was a part-time firefighter in Wayne Township before joining IFD. “They took my rank away with all of this.”

The lawsuit says the alleged racial discrimination began in May 2014. Hardister was the most senior member of his unit, but was not chosen to attend an arson academy. A white employee was chosen.

His complaints were allegedly ignored and he was given less desirable assignments and work shifts.

There were several more incidents between then and now, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says IFD violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is also named in the lawsuit because they operate the arson unit with IFD.

Hardister’s attorney, Michael Dalrymple, issued this statement:

As stated in the complaint, Mr. Hardister was denied a professional opportunity for reason completely unrelated to his qualifications and his merit.  More specifically, the decision to deny him the opportunity was racially motivated.

“When Mr. Hardister reported the discrimination to the appropriate officials, IFD and IMPD not only failed to properly investigate his complaint, they took specific actions against Mr. Hardister to damage him. This is one of the reasons that I find this complaint particularly compelling.”

IndyStar’s Kristine Guerra contributed to this report. Read her full story here.

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