Firefighter files federal discrimination suit

ALBANY, Ga. -- A former assistant fire chief has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Albany and Fire Chief James Carswell, contending discrimination and retaliation after being passed over for a promotion.

According to court documents obtained Thursday, Jolivette filed suit April 29 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

In the 17-page complaint, Jolivette contends that Carswell and the city bypassed him for consideration for the deputy fire chief's job in November 2008, and instead gave it to Ron Rowe, who Jolivette says did not meet the minimum posted qualifications for the position.

Jolivette argues that Carswell and the city violated his 14th Amendment rights to freedom from racial discrimination and unlawful retribution after he was terminated and then reinstated at a pay grade four levels lower than he had previously held following an investigation into possible misuse of city property.

Jolivette is seeking both punitive and compensatory damages based on the lost wages and mental anguish he says he has suffered as a result of the city's actions.

The most recent filing isn't the first time Jolivette has challenged Carswell and the city in court.

In 2003, Jolivette filed a suit in federal court against then Chief James Arrowood; Carswell, who was deputy chief at that time, and Battalion Chief Arthur Dyer. In the suit, he contended that they failed to adequately train and supervise employees who he said discriminated against him.

Each of the three defendants was accused of participating in the acts of discrimination, court documents show, after Jolivette stated that he was subjected to harassment, written reprimands, a transfer and an accusation of insubordination. Jolivette contended that he was denied proper consideration for a promotion to the rank of battalion chief.

That case was settled out of court on Oct. 18, 2006, when the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Association agreed to pay Jolivette $45,000 on behalf of the city, City Attorney Nathan Davis said.

According to Davis, $22,000 of the settlement went to Jolivette's attorney, Maurice King, and $23,000 to Jolivette.

The city has not filed an answer to Jolivette's April 29 suit.