Retired firefighter sues Halifax fire services, alleging racial discrimination

Retired firefighter sues Halifax fire services, alleging racial discrimination
Retired firefighter sues Halifax fire services, alleges racial discrimination
HALIFAX — A retired firefighter in Nova Scotia is suing Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, saying he was ridiculed and passed over for a position because of his race.

Court documents show George Cromwell of Dartmouth, N.S., filed a notice of action on July 24, which included a statement of claim detailing numerous alleged incidents dating back to the late 1990s.

Coming to Halifax council: CCTV use, Nova Centre and more cannabis by-laws

Cromwell said he was denied a position in his station’s rescue unit despite his qualifications because he is black.

After extracting a body from a fatal car wreck in the late 1990s, the statement of claim reads, his captain asked him to apply to a newly created rescue unit within the King Street Station in downtown Dartmouth, where he worked at the time.

Some of the specific recommendations include directing staff to look at the option of donating an HRM vehicle to the program in the 2019-20 fiscal year and asking for a staff report in the 2020-21 fiscal year on funding the project into the future.

He said the day after he applied, he checked in with a platoon chief, who said his application had been shuffled aside.

I was the most decorated firefighter in HRM, the first firefighter qualified in Dartmouth to use the Jaws of Life, and yet I was treated with disrespect due to my race, Cromwell wrote.

In another incident at the King Street Station, Cromwell wrote he returned from a vacation with a large moustache and was told by his captain that he could keep it as long as he was able to put his mask on properly to ensure safety. Cromwell said the captain was satisfied that he could.

The municipality is set to examine a 2018-2019 business plan for the the Halifax Convention Centre, known as the Nova Centre, as prepared by the company that operates the facility, Events East Group.

Over the next few weeks, he alleged he was continuously harassed and embarrassed in front of the crew by his superiors because of his moustache, noting that a white firefighter worked in another station with similar facial hair.

A consent agenda would group routine business that doesn’t typically generate debate — such as procurement, request for a staff report, and first reading of bylaws — into a single motion.

Cromwell also outlined instances where he believes his life and the lives of his coworkers were put at risk, alleging his superiors once sent them inside a burning building without adequate support.

Halifax has been operating without a policy governing the use of closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) on municipal property — but if council passes a motion on Tuesday, that will change.

To this day, I still have not been provided with any evidence or documents to suggest that my concerns were investigated by the city, read his statement of claim.

A staff report heading to council details the last set of by-law amendments coming to council ahead of federal legislation coming into effect that that will legalize consumption of cannabis.

Cromwell is seeking $200,000 in lost earnings, saying he would likely still be working or at least earning a more substantial pension had he gotten the position he said he was wrongfully denied.

The move comes after council’s decision earlier this month to modify its smoking bylaw was met with a mixed response by consumers and business people.

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency spokesman Phil McNulty confirmed they recieved Cromwell’s notice of action last week.

In an interview Sunday, he said the issue has been forwarded to Halifax’s solicitors, the people who handle legal issues on behalf of the city.

According to the staff report prepared for council, the business plan was developed in consultation with the municipality and provincial government.

The fire service, at this stage of the game, is awaiting direction from legal services and we can’t comment on matters that are currently before the court, he said.

According to Austin’s motion, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Saskatoon and Montreal already employ consent agendas at their municipal councils.

All I can say is I worked with Mr. Cromwell for a number of years — over two decades — so I’m aware of him, and I’m aware of some of the concerns that he has.

Last December, firefighter Liane Tessier recieved an official apology from Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency chief Ken Stuebing, after she said her concerns about systemic gender discrimination within the department were ignored by the municipality for over a decade.

According to Austin’s request, this would allow council to better focus on “items that require explanation and debate.”

Halifax bus mechanic Arthur Maddox was terminated a couple of months ago after a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry decision found his workplace behaviour to be disrespectful, aggressive and racist.

The new policy clearly outlines when and where CCTV may be used — primarily to enhance the security and safety of municipal employees.

The complaint about racism at the transit yard was filed with the provincial human rights commission nearly 12 years ago, in July 2006.

Council could still move certain items off of the consent agenda if they wanted to, thereby allowing them to continue to have oversight.

And in May, a group of African Nova Scotian city employees demanded action on a confidential report from two years ago that found racism in the workplace.

At the time, Raymond Sheppard, a spokesman for the group, told reporters that the anti-black racism and discrimination within HRM is at 1950s levels.

One of the more unique proposals heading to regional council this week is a request by Sam Austin, Councillor for Dartmouth Centre.

HALIFAX — A retired firefighter in Nova Scotia is suing Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, saying he was ridiculed and passed over for a position because of his race.

The Mobile Food Market,  a fresh produce grocery store on wheels, was created in 2016 to address food insecurity in the HRM.

Court documents show George Cromwell of Dartmouth, N.S., filed a notice of action on July 24, which included a statement of claim detailing numerous alleged incidents dating back to the late 1990s.

If passed, the policy will not apply to Halifax Regional Police as they are governed by another piece of municipal policy.

Cromwell said he was denied a position in his station’s rescue unit despite his qualifications because he is black.

After extracting a body from a fatal car wreck in the late 1990s, the statement of claim reads, his captain asked him to apply to a newly created rescue unit within the King Street Station in downtown Dartmouth, where he worked at the time.

Halifax Regional Council is back on Tuesday and they have another full slate of proposals to consider.

He said the day after he applied, he checked in with a platoon chief, who said his application had been “shuffled aside.”

Halifax will look to finish off its creation of a municipal framework regulating cannabis on Tuesday.

“I was the most decorated firefighter in HRM, the first firefighter qualified in Dartmouth to use the Jaws of Life, and yet I was treated with disrespect due to my race,” Cromwell wrote.

In another incident at the King Street Station, Cromwell wrote he returned from a vacation with a large moustache and was told by his captain that he could keep it as long as he was able to put his mask on properly to ensure safety. Cromwell said the captain was satisfied that he could.

Over the next few weeks, he alleged he was “continuously harassed” and embarrassed in front of the crew by his superiors because of his moustache, noting that a white firefighter worked in another station with similar facial hair.

Cromwell also outlined instances where he believes his life and the lives of his coworkers were put at risk, alleging his superiors once sent them inside a burning building without adequate support.

“To this day, I still have not been provided with any evidence or documents to suggest that my concerns were investigated by the city,” read his statement of claim.

Cromwell is seeking $200,000 in lost earnings, saying he would likely still be working or at least earning a more substantial pension had he gotten the position he said he was wrongfully denied.

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency spokesman Phil McNulty confirmed they recieved Cromwell’s notice of action last week.

In an interview Sunday, he said the issue has been forwarded to Halifax’s solicitors, the people who handle legal issues on behalf of the city.

“The fire service, at this stage of the game, is awaiting direction from legal services and we can’t comment on matters that are currently before the court,” he said.

“All I can say is I worked with Mr. Cromwell for a number of years — over two decades — so I’m aware of him, and I’m aware of some of the concerns that he has.”

Last December, firefighter Liane Tessier recieved an official apology from Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency chief Ken Stuebing, after she said her concerns about systemic gender discrimination within the department were ignored by the municipality for over a decade.

Halifax bus mechanic Arthur Maddox was terminated a couple of months ago after a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry decision found his workplace behaviour to be “disrespectful, aggressive and racist.”

The complaint about racism at the transit yard was filed with the provincial human rights commission nearly 12 years ago, in July 2006.

And in May, a group of African Nova Scotian city employees demanded action on a confidential report from two years ago that found racism in the workplace.

At the time, Raymond Sheppard, a spokesman for the group, told reporters that “the anti-black racism and discrimination within HRM is at 1950s levels.”