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YOUNGSTOWN Former firefighter sues over dismissal



Published: Tue, May 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The 18-year department veteran had a history of being late for work.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- An Ohio Avenue man fired from the city fire department in 1998 for excessive absenteeism is suing to get his job back.

Alfred Clarett Jr. says the city did not follow proper procedures in releasing him from his job. Besides reinstatement, he is asking for back pay and benefits he says he is owed since his discharge.

An 18-year veteran of the department, Clarett had achieved the rank of lieutenant. He was fired July 16, 1998, for failing to show up for work on time May 31, 1998, in violation of a "last-chance" agreement he signed in August 1997.

The problem: According to Vindicator files, Clarett was late for work seven times between March 12, 1995, and June 14, 1997. After the June 14 incident, Clarett signed an agreement saying he would be fired if he was absent within two years of the deal.

The suit says Clarett was supposed to report for work at 8 a.m. May 31, 1998, but was late. At 8:30 a.m., his supervisor called him at home and told him to stay home for the rest of his shift, which Clarett did. He was fired nearly two months later.

The suit says the city did not furnish Clarett with a copy of the order of his termination, which should state the reasons for firing. A copy of the order was also not filed with the city's civil service commission, both of which are required.

Failure to provide the copies to Clarett and the civil service commission prevented him from appealing to the commission or the courts, the suit says.

It says the city, not Clarett, breached the last-chance agreement.

Not the first case: This is the second time Clarett has sued the city over his firing. The first suit, filed in 1999, was dismissed by Clarett in October 2000 with the understanding it could be refiled within a year.

Clarett's attorney, Thomas R. Wright of Warren, declined to say why the first suit was dismissed or why Clarett opted to bring it back. He also declined to say where Clarett is working now.

"We still have our rights to take the case to court and we are going forward," Wright said.

The suit was filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court and is assigned to Judge Robert G. Lisotto.

bjackson@vindy.com




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