White Miss. firefighter sues city for discrimination

Dylan Davis said he was passed over for being hired in his hometown of West Point despite being the only certified firefighter among four applicants

By FireRescue1 Staff

WEST POINT, Miss. — A white firefighter filed a discrimination lawsuit against city officials, claiming he was passed over for a job despite being the only certified firefighter among four candidates.

A lawsuit filed by Dylan Davis claims the majority black West Point Board of Selectmen hired two black applicants and one white applicant, denying Davis the opportunity to fulfill his life ambition to become a firefighter in his hometown, according to the Clarion Ledger.

Davis said he was first turned down by West Point to be a firefighter when he was 18 because he was too young, so he obtained his firefighter’s certification at his own expense and was hired at the Grenada Fire Department, but he wanted to work in his hometown.

The lawsuit claims that a Board of Selectmen member stated during the application process that officials needed to help African Americans “raise the quality of their lives” by giving them access to “good-paying jobs.”

The lawsuit also says that the black selectmen referenced a “quota system,” in which city officials tried to balance out the number of black and white firefighters by hiring more black applicants despite their qualifications.

"This case shows race discrimination hurts all of the citizens of the municipality, not just the discrimination victim,” Davis’ attorney Jim Waide said. “As a result of hiring uncertified firefighters, the city of West Point will incur unnecessary expense to provide the necessary training and will have a less qualified firefighter force, thus endangering citizen safety."

Davis said the other white firefighter hired was a member of a prominent family in the city.

"Plaintiff, however, was eliminated from consideration, and two black applicants were hired instead, even though they were not certified, because the city wanted to balance the number of black and white firefighters," the lawsuit said. "This constitutes discrimination based upon race, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

The lawsuit added that Davis “was informed by a battalion commander at the fire department that [he] would certainly be hired because the fire chief strongly recommended [him] as the only certified applicant.”

Davis is seeking damages for mental anxiety and lost income, and is requesting back pay as well as an order awarding him the firefighter position.

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