Dyslexic firefighter files discrimination lawsuit against city

Volunteer firefighter Christopher Gallagher claimed a Surfside Beach captain and fire chief allegedly said, “We’re not hiring someone who can’t read”

By Megan Tomasic
The Sun Times

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. — The Town of Surfside Beach denied allegations that fire officials discriminated against volunteer firefighter Christopher Gallagher after a captain and fire chief allegedly said, “We’re not hiring someone who can’t read.”

Gallagher filed a lawsuit in June against the town alleging he did not receive a promotion to fire engineer due to having dyslexia, documents show.

According to the lawsuit, Gallagher only told his direct supervisors of his condition, and was told it would not be discussed with anyone else.

While taking a test for the position, a coworker allegedly yelled, “That guy is an idiot! What’s he got? Dyslexia?”

Despite passing the physical test and having education qualifications required for the position, the fire department allegedly hired a candidate who failed the written and physical test, according to the lawsuit. The suit argues that Gallagher was the most qualified candidate for the job.

Gallagher is asking for pay, benefits, damages and attorney’s fees because his “disability was the ultimate reason or determining factor in Defendant’s failure to promote him,” interfering with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the lawsuit reads.

The suit now moves to federal court, with the town saying it always acted “in good faith and in a reasonable manner” toward Gallagher.

According to the response, the town stated Gallagher cannot prove he suffered any damages from his allegations, that his allegations are vague and are lacking meaningful standard.

The town is asking the court to deny relief sought by Gallagher, dismiss the claims and award the town the cost of attorneys fees.

Copyright 2018 The Sun Times

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