Colo. firefighter alleges racial mistreatment

Devin Bullis filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division about conduct at the Olathe Fire Protection District


By Leila Merrill

OLATHE, Colo. — An Olathe firefighter who is Black has filed a complaint over racist and other bigoted comments during the time he has worked for the Olathe Fire Protection District, the Montrose Daily Press reported.

Devin Bullis filed a confidential complaint through his attorney, Keith Killian, with the Colorado Civil Rights Division in July. In October, a position statement and response were filed. So far, there has not been a ruling, and mediation is reportedly ongoing.

“The reason he loves Olathe is he loves the community. He likes his job there,” said Kyle Bullis, husband of Devin Bullis.
“The reason he loves Olathe is he loves the community. He likes his job there,” said Kyle Bullis, husband of Devin Bullis. (Photo/Olathe Fire Protection District)

According to Killian, the fire district board was supposed to discuss the case this month, but the meeting was canceled. A Delta, Colo. community group, Delta Pride, had planned to protest outside the district board meeting on Dec. 21 to show support for Bullis.

“There is a claim and we are attempting to resolve it without filing a lawsuit. If it can’t be resolved, that is one of the options on the table,” Killian said.

The Olathe Fire Protection District’s general counsel, Bo Nerlin, declined to comment on specific allegations.

The district has also retained special counsel.

Before filing the complaint, Bullis took his concerns up the chain of command, his husband, Kyle Bullis, previously told the Montrose Daily Press.

“The reason he loves Olathe is he loves the community. He likes his job there,” Kyle Bullis said.

Earlier this year, the district’s general counsel hired an attorney to conduct a third-party investigation into Devin Bullis’ reports of harassment.

The May report, which was provided to the Press recently by a third party, states that Bullis reported six events. Five involved him directly and involved “offensive or derogatory remarks” about his color or race. A sixth was reported as not directed at him but racially disparaging.

The attorney who filed the report, David Masters, said that the instances indicate a “systemic problem within the district generally and within its leadership in particular.”

Masters recommended training on implicit bias and cultural diversity to be part of fostering a culture without harassment.

“A simple commitment to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace is not enough. An organization like the district must have systems in place that hold each and every employee accountable for this expectation,” Masters wrote.

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