City denies claims in Moore lawsuit

An attorney for the city of Pine Bluff has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a battalion chief for the Fire and Emergency Services Department who claims he was discriminated against when he was not promoted to chief in 2011.

Arkansas Municipal League attorney Sara Teague said in a court filing that the city has an anti-discrimination policy and James Scott Moore, who filed the lawsuit, “has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.”

In January, Moore sued the city, alleging that he was the victim of race and age discrimination by former Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., who promoted Shauwn Howell to the chief’s position.

Redus said at the time that Moore was one of three finalists for the position.

On behalf of the city, Teague denied claims Moore made in the lawsuit, including that he was the most qualified applicant.

Moore also said in the lawsuit that the reason Redus gave for selecting Howell instead of him was that “the mayor wanted an individual who was younger and could potentially hold the position of fire chief for a longer period of time.”

According to the lawsuit filed by Little Rock attorney James W. Stanley, the city’s actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, “because the plaintiff (Moore) is white and was 49 years of age and such actions violated the Discrimination in Employment Act of 1966, as amended.”

In the city’s response, Teague denied “any and all allegations of wrongdoing,” and said Moore’s rights were not violated.

Additionally, Teague said Moore “unreasonably failed to avail himself of the defendant’s (City of Pine Bluff) adequately written, applied and disseminated anti-discrimination policy, as well as the procedures and remedies related thereto.”

Moore had previously filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the commission affirmed Moore’s right to initiate the civil lawsuit against the city.

The lawsuit does not ask that a federal judge install Moore as fire chief, but rather seeks damages in the form of the difference in the salary Moore currently receives as battalion chief and that of fire chief until he retires, in addition to attorney fees and court costs.

The case was assigned to federal judge D. P. Marshall.