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Florida's Orange County Fire and Rescue Division does NOT like white males very much.  32 firefighters have sued the OCFRD for reverse discrimination and they WON!

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Case 11 - Orange County, Florida to white firefighters:  buzz off!

Racial Preferences Cost!

32 Orange County firefighters sue for reverse discrimination and WIN!
Updated 10-23-98

          If you are a white male at the Orange County Fire and Rescue Division (Florida), you may have to sue to protect your civil rights!  These men put up with racial epithets from the County Chairman and racial harassment from their colleagues in order to pursue their civil rights, and they WON!

GO:  Success Story, Details. Orange County Doesn't Want White Firefighters:  32 firefighters in this Florida county were forced to sue to have "skin color" eliminated as a job qualification!

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Orange County, Florida:  Firefighters
must be the right color!

32 'White' Firefighters and their lawyers say "NO WAY!"

(October 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).

DOWN:  Case Details, the Complaint.

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
                                        Phone 407-422-5166

(October 14, 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 expenses).   

          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 case:

          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 Division’s 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 Countywide policy.

          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 positions.

          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 Chief’s 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.


Desired Outcomes:

(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.

Court Information:

Case number: 94-620-civ-orl-19 & 96-111-civ-orl-18
Date: October 14, 1998
Judge: The Honorable Kendall Sharp

Additional Links:

Whites need not apply for jobs or contracts in Orange County, Florida!  Additional background on this sunny and non-so-constitutional Florida county:

'White' Firefighters Win Settlement from County!  (dead link) (Orlando Sentinel, 10/21/98)
[formerly at: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/102198_SETTLE21.html ]

County Offers Settlement to White Firefighters  (dead link) (Orlando Sentinel, 10/17/98)
[formerly at:   http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/101798_SETTLE17.html ]

Minority policies irk firefighters (dead link) (Orlando Sentinel, 10/12/98)
[formerly at:   http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/101298_FIRE12.html ]

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Copyright 2002 Adversity.Net, Inc., an IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational organization.  For problems or questions regarding this web contact editor@adversity.net    Last updated: November 07, 1999.

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*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.