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SALEM Fireman sues city, officials



Published: Fri, July 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The trouble began after a male firefighter began assuming a feminine appearance, a lawsuit states.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- A firefighter is suing the city and several municipal officials for $718,000, claiming they conspired to try to fire him after learning he has a gender identity disorder that may lead to him seeking a sex change.

Lt. Jimmie Smith of 452 W. Fourth St., names as defendants the city, Mayor Larry DeJane, Fire Chief Walt Greenamyer and Law Director C. Brooke Zellers.

Smith claims he is being unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of sex and that the discrimination includes sex stereotyping and retaliatory disciplinary action against him.

Smith said in the lawsuit, filed in federal court, that before April 2001, he began expressing a feminine appearance as part of his treatment for gender identity disorder, a psychological condition.

His appearance prompted questions or comments from his co-workers "as not being masculine enough," the lawsuit states.

Told about condition

In April 2001, Smith informed a supervisor about his condition and the likelihood that his treatment probably would eventually include a complete physical transition from male to female.

That led to Greenamyer and other city officials, including DeJane and Zellers, maliciously planning to force Smith's resignation or firing, the lawsuit claims.

In particular, the defendants conspired to have Smith submit to psychological evaluations, hoping he would resign or refuse to comply. If he refused to comply, the city would try to fire him for insubordination, the lawsuit alleged.

There's no claim in the lawsuit that such a plan was carried out.

On April 26, 2001, Greenamyer suspended Smith for one 24-hour shift for a reported infraction of city policy, the lawsuit states, although it doesn't describe that policy.

Smith argued in a hearing before the city civil service commission that the suspension was a matter of selective enforcement in retaliation for Smith's having retained an attorney, the lawsuit claims.

The suspension was overturned in October 2001 by Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

DeJane and Greenamyer declined to comment Thursday. Zellers was unavailable.

The case will be heard by Judge Peter Economus in Youngstown.




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