A battalion chief with the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department has filed a federal lawsuit against the city, alleging that he was the victim of racial and age discrimination when he was not selected as the department’s chief in 2011.
James Scott Moore says in the lawsuit that he was not selected for the chief’s position by then-Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., despite being “the most qualified” applicant.
Redus promoted Shauwn Howell, who had served as deputy fire chief and then interim chief, to fire chief on Dec. 29., 2011.
Redus said at the time that Moore was one of three finalists for the chief’s position.
“A younger individual, who was black, was selected by the Mayor because of his race and age,” Moore, who is white, says in his lawsuit.
According to the court filing, Moore is not asking the federal court to install him as fire chief, but instead wants damages in the form of the difference in salary he currently receives as battalion chief and that of the the fire chief position until he is eligible to retire, in addition to attorney fees.
Pine Bluff City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott, who received a notice of the lawsuit earlier this week, was in Little Rock on Friday attending an Arkansas Municipal League meeting and could not be reached for comment.
The lawsuit says that Moore joined the department in 1984 and applied for the chief’s position when it became open in May 2011.
“Plaintiff (Moore) applied and had ample credentials with experience as a firefighter and in management positions, and met all of the requirements of the notice of open position,” the lawsuit says.
Moore says 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.
“These actions violate 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 action violated the Discrimination in Employment Act of 1966 as amended,” the lawsuit says.
Moore had previously filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the commission affirmed Moore’s right to initiate the civil suit against the city.
The lawsuit was filed by Little Rock attorney James W. Stanley, and the case was assigned to federal judge D. P. Marshall.