ST. LOUIS (CN) – A St. Louis County fire protection district fired a supervisor for refusing to “dig up dirt” on black employees, the United States claims in Federal Court.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, on behalf of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claims that David Tilley, then-chief of the Robertson Fire Protection District, told then-Battalion Chief Steve Wilson, who is white, to go through the computers of the black employees and “dig up dirt.”
“Under oath at his March 10, 2008 deposition, Wilson testified that in 2004 or 2005 Tilley called Wilson into his office and told him to go ‘through the two nigger computers and dig up dirt,'” the complaint states.
“According to his deposition testimony, Wilson told Tilley, ‘I’m not doing it, I don’t get paid for this, I’m not doing it, I’m not doing it, you have to go somewhere else if you want that done.’ Wilson testified that when Tilley asked him ‘why not?’ Wilson responded, ‘It just don’t sound right, it ain’t right.'”
The government says that the district demoted Wilson to private, suspended and fired him in 2006.
Wilson filed a grievance with his union and was reinstated under a “last chance agreement” that put him on probation and restricted his ability to seek promotions, the government says.
Wilson also testified under oath “that Tiller admitted to him that Robertson’s actions against him were caused by his refusal to cooperate with his directives regarding Woods and Downer,” the two black employees, the complaint states.
Woods and Downer sued the district, and Wilson testified under subpoena in that case, which was settled by consent decree in 2008. Robertson denied wrongdoing, but the district agreed to a monetary settlement with the two firefighters, according to the complaint.
Wilson, who is still a Robertson employee, says the district still continues to discriminate him. He claims that even though his probationary status has been removed, the district “still maintains Wilson on a de facto probationary status” that eliminates the possibility of promotion.
An attorney for Robertson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the fire district denies the allegations.
Uncle Sam wants the fire district ordered to stop retaliating against Wilson, let him apply for promotions, remove pejorative remarks from his personnel file based upon the cases at hand, and pay him damages for pain and suffering.