Inspector files suit, claims discrimination
The inspector filed numerous grievances that were dismissed, the chief says.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the city by a chief fire inspector who says he was required to do work not done by high-ranking white officers.
Hubert Clardy, who is black, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Cleveland. He contends he was discriminated against based on race.
Clardy, 45, of Liberty Road, has been with the Youngstown Fire Department since 1986. He heads up the fire inspection unit that handles code enforcement and occupancy inspections, and conducts fire prevention programs.
Clardy, in his lawsuit, said he was required to work on a fire suppression crew -- an assignment not required of white and/or female officers who have attained high rank. He said he has suffered extreme emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, loss of self esteem and loss of pay.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, asks for unspecified monetary damages and attorney fees. Clardy is acting as his own lawyer.
Fire Chief John J. O'Neill Jr. called the charge "ridiculous and frivolous." He said Clardy filed numerous grievances, all of which were dismissed, over an assignment last summer.
O'Neill said the department was shorthanded and Clardy, a white woman and white man were assigned to a truck, a duty referred to as fire suppression. The assignment lasted about five months, the chief said Thursday.
O'Neill said Clardy was returned to the fire inspection unit after the department hired three firefighters. "It was just a temporary assignment to help reduce overtime," the fire chief said.
Clardy has four lieutenants in the fire inspection unit, all women, O'Neill said. Two are black and two are white.
The fire chief declined to comment further because of the pending litigation.
Clardy alleges the fire department is unable to show that it has treated white and female employees in the same manner that he has been treated. He said the fire department has deprived him of equal contract opportunities on the basis of race.
He said that, as consequence of asserting his rights, he has been subjected to intimidation, coercion and interference with his job duties after complaining about unlawful employment practices and filing charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
An EEOC letter, filed with Clardy's lawsuit, said the commission was unable to conclude that the information it obtained established violations. The EEOC told Clardy he could exercise his right to file a lawsuit within 90 days of receipt of the letter dated Jan. 26.