City of Fort Wayne denies discrimination claims by former firefighter

"Courtroom Gavel" by Joe Gratz, public domain

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO) – The city of Fort Wayne has denied any claims that it discriminated against a former assistant chief for the Fort Wayne Fire Department and thinks that the federal lawsuit against them should be dismissed.

Elbert Starks, an African-American, says in the lawsuit that he received “racially hostile comments” from co-workers at the Fort Wayne Fire Department, according to the Journal Gazette.  He stated that the comments created such a toxic work environment that he took a demotion just so he could escape it.  The lawsuit also alleges the department failed to accommodate an unspecified disability.

RELATED: Former assistant fire chief suing over discrimination

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne.  The city claims that it should be dismissed because his accusations are more severe than what he initially told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A lawyer for the city indicated that city officials “exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any discriminatory or harassing behavior.”

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