Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Federal appeals court sides with Pasco firefighters in appeal of discrimination lawsuit

Times Staff Writers

A federal appeals court has reinstated a jury verdict for two firefighters who claimed Pasco County retaliated against them after they filed discrimination complaints seven years ago.

The 37-page opinion issued Thursday found that the county retaliated against firefighters Anthony Booth and Jerry Brown by requiring psychological tests to keep their jobs.

The case began in 2007 when Booth, who is Hispanic, filed a discrimination complaint against Fire Capt. Mark Bodden. Brown served as a witness for that charge and later filed his own complaint. Brown, whose wife is Jewish, claimed that Bodden made anti-Semitic remarks.

A trial judge set aside the discrimination case, but let a jury decide a separate claim in 2012 that the county and the Pasco County Professional Firefighters Union retaliated against the two.

The jury agreed that the union should not have posted a 2008 memo that identified the firefighters and labeled their claims "frivolous." It also said the county retaliated when it demanded the men undergo psychological tests after they said they couldn't trust co-workers who shunned them.

After the trial, the judge set aside the county's part of the damages, but upheld the union's.

Pasco and the union appealed those rulings, however the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the firefighters.

In its ruling, the court said: "The county ordered the examinations without ever speaking to plaintiffs or their supervisors. The county also failed, entirely, to investigate the potential factual basis for plaintiffs' statements, even after plaintiffs had been declared fit for duty."

The higher court awarded $23,000 in damages from the county to both of the men and $166,000 in damages from the union. Both men still work for Pasco Fire Rescue.

Federal appeals court sides with Pasco firefighters in appeal of discrimination lawsuit 07/03/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 3, 2014 9:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    ON THE BALL: Rays third baseman Evan Longoria makes the play and the throw during the first inning against the Pirates.
  2. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company


    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.
  3. Lightning prospects mantra: You never know when NHL chance will appear

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Brett Howden said he watched closely last season as former junior teammate Brayden Point made an remarkable rise to a Lightning regular in his first year pro.

    Lightning prospect Mikhail Sergachev skates during the Lightning Development Camp Wednesday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. McConnell trying to revise the Senate health care bill by Friday


    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is aiming to send a revised version of his health care bill to the Congressional Budget Office as soon as Friday as he continues to push for a vote before Congress' August recess.

    Protesters rally against the Senate Republican health care bill Wednesday on the east front of the Capitol building.
  5. Police raise likely death toll in London high-rise blaze


    LONDON — The number of people killed or presumed dead in the London high-rise fire has inched up to 80, but the final death toll may not be known for months, British police said at a grim briefing Wednesday.