The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the Robertson Fire Protection District (RFPD) in North Saint Louis County, Mo., for unfairly retaliating against a firefighter who provided testimony against the RFPD, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. Title VII is a federal statute which prohibits retaliation for opposing instances of employment discrimination.
According to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Steve Wilson, who is a firefighter, was subjected to acts of retaliation by RFPD after he provided testimony in support of a Title VII case brought by the department in 2007 on behalf of two former African-American firefighters. Wilson's deposition testimony in 2008 described how RFPD Chief David Tilley asked Wilson to participate in discriminatory conduct and how Wilson refused to do so. The lawsuit alleges that RFPD retaliated against Wilson after he provided the testimony about the discriminatory conduct that occurred in RFPD.
“Employees who refuse to participate in discriminatory activity and provide testimony against their employers’ unlawful discrimination should be applauded, not punished,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Title VII not only protects those who have suffered discrimination, it also protects those who oppose discrimination in the workplace. We will not tolerate public employers retaliating against their employees who participate in the investigations and lawsuits necessary to combat unlawful discrimination.”
The continued enforcement of Title VII has been a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/.