Judge Orders Brookline Firefighter Be Reinstated After Discrimination Controversy

BOSTON — A judge has ruled that a Brookline firefighter who was fired after complaining about racial discrimination should be reinstated. The ordeal surrounding Gerald Alston’s stance with the department has been going on for years.

Alston first complained to the fire chief in 2010. He said Lieutenant Paul Pender left him a voicemail and in it, Pender had used the n-word. Since then, Alston told WBZ-TV he felt targeted and retaliated against. He was put on leave and then fired in 2016.

In February, the state’s Civil Service Commission ordered Alston be reinstated. In an 83-page decision, the commission said the town “actively promoted a false narrative of Alston, overlooked retaliation and chose not to impose meaningful discipline on Mr. Pender.”

The commission gave Brookline Select Board 30 days to respond. The town filed a motion to prevent the reinstatement but the judge denied the request.

The decision said in part:

“Brookline asserts that, during the pendency of this c. 30A appeal, it will be irreparably harmed by returning Firefighter Alston to his position without loss of compensation or other rights. The court is not convinced.

For one thing, the Town previously retained Firefighter Alston in his position, on leave, for over a year before the termination. For another, the Town represented, at the hearing and in its papers, that it presently has (and will for the foreseeable future have) 114 firefighters. It acknowledged that returning Alston to his position will not affect the number of firefighters actually on active duty in Brookline during the time period in question. Third, the affidavit of the Brookline Fire Chief asserts great concern that enforcement of the Decision “will cause upset and a detrimental effect on the good order and function of the Department.” The fact that some members of the Fire Department may be upset at the Commission’s Decision on remand may not be surprising, but it is not irreparable harm.” 

From CBS Boston

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