Conn. lieutenant sues FD, commissioners board for twice denying promotion
New Haven Lt. Samod Rankins alleges discrimination based on race and disability
By Leila Merrill
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A New Haven firefighter is suing the city and the Board of Fire Commissioners for passing him over for a promotion twice, WTNH reported this week.
Lt. Samod Rankins was critically injured in the line of duty in May 2021 while battling a house fire. He was found unconscious on the second floor of the home and a fellow firefighter, Ricardo Torres Jr., was killed. Rankins was placed in a medically induced coma and was eventually cleared to resume his full duties with no restrictions.
Rankins passed a promotional exam to be a fire captain, but the Board of Fire Commissioners allegedly passed him over twice, claiming he had not been medically cleared to work. Rankins claims that this is against the New Haven Fire Department’s standard practice of promoting firefighters who are on a promotional list.
Rankins filed a complaint alleging discrimination based on race and disability. He was the only African American candidate of the 10 lieutenants eligible for promotion to captain.
He is now seeking the promotion, back pay from when he believes he should have been promoted, the difference in pension funds from the promotion, attorney’s fees, costs and punitive damages.
The firefighter’s union has also filed a complaint with Connecticut’s labor board, claiming Rankins was eligible for both testing and promotion and was passed over due to increased eligibility criteria.
The city of New Haven released the following statement:
“Given the pending litigation, the City of New Haven cannot comment on the substance of the lawsuit at this time, but Lieutenant Rankins service as a New Haven firefighter is to be commended and the fire department looks forward to him returning to work at the appropriate time.”