|Orange County, Florida: Firefighters
must be the right color!
32 'White' Firefighters and their
lawyers say "NO WAY!"
21, 19989): SUCCESS! The County settled with the firefighters this
week! Orange County board member Mable Butler actually called the firefighters
"bigots" (on TV!) for defending their Constitutional rights. Board
Chairwoman Linda Chapin and her quota-supporters on the Council have spent the past 8
years trying to re-write the Constitution in favor of racial quotas, but these
firefighters would have none of it. Fortunately, both Chapin and Butler are out of
office next month due to term limits (8 years was long enough to do plenty of damage).
LAW FIRM: The 32 firefighters were
successfully represented by lawyers Bernie Dempsey, Brian Solomon and Jeffrey Grant, all
with the following law firm:
Dempsey and Sasso
Nations Bank Center
390 N. Orange Ave, Suite 2700
Orlando, Florida 32801
1998) -- CASE DETAILS: From 1991 to the present, the
Orange County Fire Rescue Division (OCFRD) and Orange County government (near Orlando
Florida) have systematically discriminated against and trampled the rights of white male
Firefighters and applicant Firefighters through the imposition of a misguided and illegal
preferential hiring and promotion plan.
According to the Orlando Sentinel (10/12/98), the 32 firefighters who are suing are
seeking $5 million for emotional harm and $1 million for lost wages. The
firefighters' attorneys' fees for bringing the County to justice could cost the County as
much as an additional $2 million (in addition to the County's own legal
Because the 32 firefighters think white guys should be treated fairly, they have had to
endure charges of racism from their management and from minority firefighters.
Following the court date Wed., 10/14/98, an inside source told Adversity.Net the parties
may be preparing to reach a settlement rather than drag the legal battle out any longer.
Wednesday's court appearance was the culmination of two prior reverse discrimination
lawsuits against Orange County. Suits filed in 1994 and 1996 had been combined by
U.S. District Judge Kendall Sharp.
Brief Description of the Typical
Plaintiff in this case:
There are 32 individual plaintiffs in this case. Each one has their own claim, but many of
the claims are very similar. All the plaintiffs are or have been a member of the Orange
County Fire Rescue Division. They have occupied the ranks from reserve firefighter to
Battalion Chief. These plaintiffs are all exemplary employees. They are the over-achievers
of the Division. The plaintiffs worked hard to obtain the necessary qualifications for the
promotional process. Subsequently, they either were not allowed to take the promotional
exams or, if they were allowed to take the exam and achieved high scores, their promotions
were nonetheless rejected because they were "not minorities" or because they
were the "wrong gender".
Affirmative Action as it relates to this
The plaintiffs in this case are not challenging the constitutionality of the laws that
regulate affirmative action. We are alleging that Orange County, and the Orange County
Fire Rescue Division, are discriminating against us because of our race and gender.
We allege that Orange County is continuing racial and sexual discrimination against us to
this day. Orange County and the Orange County Fire Rescue Division trampled on the rights
of white males in the guise of an affirmative action plan. It is our assertion, which is
supported by the facts of the case, that Orange County cannot show a pattern and practice
of past discrimination that would justify the aggressive nature of their affirmative
action efforts that trample on the rights of white males.
Brief description of the complaint:
(Please refer to the complaint to fully understand our position.) Up until 1990,
Orange County Fire Rescue Divisions standard practice was to promote the most
qualified candidate based upon scores from a promotional exam. For example, if you
finished a test with the highest score that meant you would be the first person promoted.
The Second highest scorer would be the second promoted, and so on. This is called the rule
of one in promotions.
Additionally, until 1993 the Orange County Fire Rescue Division had a policy of promoting
internal applicants for jobs that became available in upper management. This was a
In January of 1991, Orange County Fire Rescue Division asked their legal counsel about
implementing an aggressive affirmative action plan. In April of 1991, the OCFRD promoted
three white males in ranked order to the rank of combat Lieutenant then jumped over the
next highest ranking applicants in order to get to the highest ranking minority applicant
(a black male) and promoted him to the rank of combat Lieutenant. This was the first time
OCFRD had promoted out of ranked order. Grievances were filed and the County denied that
they did it based upon affirmative action. The County claimed that they never used rank
order promotions and they could promote who ever they wanted to. Now they agree that it
was done based upon affirmative action.
Subsequently, twice more the County promoted the three most qualified (highest scoring)
applicants, most or all of whom turned out to be white, and then would skip down the list
past other high-scoring white males to pick the next highest black. We came to call this
the 3 to 1 promotions -- three qualified whites, then a less qualified minority.
Just a few days before the list of promotional test scores was to expire, the County
skipped over many higher-ranking white males in order to promote a black male whose
ranking was 40th out of 42!
During this two year period OCFRD was warned by their legal counsel that what they were
doing was unlawful. OCFRD subsequently fired their legal counsel.
In December of 1991, OCFRD violated its long-standing policy of promoting from within in
order to hire a black male from New York State into the position of Deputy Chief. This was
done over more qualified white males that were currently employed by OCFRD.
In 1993, the OCFRD allocated over $750,000 to create 17 new management positions and 25
other new hires. In both categories they targeted minorities over more qualified white
males (based on test scores, resumes, and on-the-job experience).
We feel the evidence will prove that OCFRD promoted and hired minorities solely for racial
reasons and did not allow more qualified white males to be considered for the open
During the 1993 reorganization, a Battalion Chief with the OCFRD applied internally for an
Assistant Chief position. Interestingly, the Assistant Chief position was posted both
internally and externally (clearly violating the internal promotions policy), AND the
external position posting specified LOWER requirements than the internal posting.
The Orange County Fire Rescue Division rejected the Battalion Chiefs application for
promotion because they said that he was not qualified for the position.
Following his rejection, the Battalion Chief applied for the position through the minority
headhunting firm employed by the county. The minority headhunting firm accepted his
application and this Battalion Chief that was earlier rejected was allowed to participate
in the interview process. However, in February 1994 OCFRD hired a black male from out of
state into the position of Assistant Chief. Plaintiffs allege that the outside minority
hire did not then, nor does he now, possess the minimum qualifications that were initially
required for his job, based on either of the internal or external postings. The outside
hiring of this minority required the OCFRD to by-pass more qualified internal employees
who happened to be white. White males were not even considered for this position because
of their race and gender.
These are just a few examples of the discrimination mentioned in our complaint filed on
September 9, 1994, in Federal Court against Orange County and Orange County Fire Rescue
Division near Orlando Florida.
(1) Promote and hire the most qualified
applicant in the future. Give no consideration to race or gender during the hiring or
promotional process. Pay all attorneys' fees & costs the plaintiffs have incurred by
litigating this case.
(2) Enter into an agreement with Orange
County and OCFRD in which they agree NOT to retaliate or harass any plaintiffs in this
case for as long as they are employed by Orange County, and / or OCFRD.
(3) Promote, hire and pay compensatory
damages to all the plaintiffs in this case.
(4) Pay each plaintiff a monetary payment
for emotional damages that the continued act of discrimination is causing.
Case number: 94-620-civ-orl-19 &
Date: October 14, 1998
Judge: The Honorable Kendall Sharp
Whites need not apply for jobs or contracts in
Orange County, Florida! Additional background on this sunny and
non-so-constitutional Florida county:
Firefighters Win Settlement from County! (dead link) (Orlando
County Offers Settlement to
White Firefighters (dead link) (Orlando Sentinel, 10/17/98)
irk firefighters (dead link) (Orlando Sentinel, 10/12/98)