Texas firefighter appeals firing for refusing to follow orders


By Deanna Boyd
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 
FORT WORTH, Texas — A Fort Worth firefighter who was terminated for refusing to follow orders has appealed her firing, arguing that the allegations are retaliation for complaints she had made recently.

Artie Dawson, Fort Worth's first female African-American firefighter, had been offered a 24-day suspension in lieu of indefinite suspension in exchange for not appealing the discipline but declined the offer.

Dawson's attorney, Frank Colosi, said the allegations appear to be in retaliation for previous complaints made by the fire engineer.

"She has some disabilities which don't interfere with her ability to do her job but they require some accommodations," Colosi said. "Specific accommodations were agreed to by the department years ago but never acted upon. Finally she objected to the fact it had never been acted upon this year, then this sequence of complaints followed."

In the appeal, filed Tuesday afternoon with the Civil Service Commission, Colosi argued that some allegations made against Dawson were legally insufficient and others simply did not warrant termination.

"Compared to the punishment given other individuals for the same thing — punishment which is often non-existent — this is grossly disproportionate," Colosi said.

According to a letter filed with the Civil Service Commission, fire officials wrote that Dawson's discipline came after she repeatedly ignored orders. The allegations included refusing to park on the same side of the street as the calls to which she was responding, driving to a scene before police had secured the area and wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt on a call.

Dawson, who joined the department in 1982, was fired in early 1999 for an alleged "profane and violent outburst" at a co-worker. She appealed and her firing was later overturned.

She had previously told the Star-Telegram after her reinstatement that she believed she was the target of racial discrimination and harassment.

Copyright 2007 Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News

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