Senior United States Judge, William Stafford denied the City of Tallahassee’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former City of Tallahassee firefighter Mark DeCarlo.
Stafford said in an order dated September 18, 2015, that the “court finds that there are genuine disputes as to the material facts” in the case and informed the City that the clerk will set a trial date.
The complete order can be read here.
DeCarlo is suing the City for unlawful disability discrimination and retaliation.
DeCarlo claims his efforts to notify City management about equipment that was in a constant state of disrepair through a lack of maintenance led to harassment and his eventual termination.
The United States Judge points out in the order that “DeCarlo was promoted from firefighter to engineer in November 2010” and “received Consistently Goes Beyond employment evaluation in 2010-12.”
From April 2010 to April 2013, DeCarlo submitted approximately 126 repair requests on 238 items. The items included ladders and fire hoses.
In April 2013, DeCarlo submitted written allegations to the City of Tallahassee Auditor that stated the “Fire apparatus inventory, inspection, and repair process, and hose testing and inventory records were not adequate.”
In May of 2013 DeCarlo was put on administrative leave and an audit addressing his claims was ordered.
City of Tallahassee Fire Chief Cindy Dick told WCTV;
“We have policies and procedures as it relates to daily inventory of equipment, daily operational readiness of equipment, any number of checks and balances, reporting of equipment, but to ensure that we’re getting an objective view of it we’ve asked the city auditor to come in and take a second look of our practices.”
She added, in response to DeCarlo’s claims;
“We’ve got annual maintenance schedules. We pull every single hose off every apparatus every year and test it to pressure test it. If there were equipment problems I’m quite certain out of 300 employees it would be brought to my attention.”
However, an Audit conducted by City Auditor, Bert Fletcher, which was released in August 2013, reported;
“We noted significant deficiencies in accounting for tracking fire hoses. Those deficiencies adversely impacted the fire’s hose testing process. Accordingly, we cannot provide assurance that all hoses used in Fire vehicles have been properly tested, are in satisfactory working condition, and are properly accounted for in the Fire’s inventory records.”
The Audit findings seem to support DeCarlo’s assertions and raise serious questions about Chief Cindy Dick’s comments to WCTV.
DeCarlo’s employment with the City of Tallahassee was terminated before the Audit findings were released on August 16,2013 and his lawsuit was filed on June 10th, 2014.
Coming next: Is there evidence that supports DeCarlo’s allegations of harassment and retaliation?