Providence settles racial discrimination lawsuit with firefighter

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence officials have agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a veteran firefighter that accused department higher-ups of transferring him to a different assignment based on his race.

Under the terms of a settlement, Renato Alarcon will be paid $7,500, according to Victor Morente, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office.

The City Council Committee on Claims and Pending Suits approved the agreement at a meeting last week.

Alarcon, who has worked for the fire department since 1999, filed the lawsuit in 2015, claiming he was transferred because of his race and replaced by a white colleague. He also accused one firefighter of making inappropriate comments about his race and alleged Hispanic firefighters were banned from parking their cars in a certain area after a white firefighter complained.

The lawsuit accused the city of racial discrimination, employment discrimination and retaliation. Alarcon claimed he was out of work for nearly three months “to address the emotional effects” of the actions taken against him by his colleagues.

In a pretrial memorandum filed in July, the city solicitor’s office claimed Alarcon was transferred based on his “insubordination, violent outbursts, confrontational nature [and] overall threat to the work environment.”

The matter was expected to go to trial in September, but the two sides chose to negotiate the settlement.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan