The former chief of the La Marque Fire Department is suing for race discrimination and retaliation after a series of run-ins with the city manager over alleged harassment within the department.
Todd Zacherl, who is white, was a 16-year veteran of the department when he resigned last year after being suspended because of allegations that he allowed a hostile work environment to fester on his watch.
City Manager Eric Gage said he suspended Zacherl because he lacked confidence in Zacherl’sof the department. The suspension came after a five-month investigation into allegations of sexual and racial harassment, which found that minority paramedics faced a hostile work environment. However, Zacherl was cleared of wrongdoing.
In 2009, Zacherl filed an EEOC complaint alleging that Gage had illegally installed an unqualified black man to serve as fire marshal. Zacherl alleged that Gage then tried to retaliate against him for filing the complaint.
According to Zacherl’s lawsuit, Gage’s conduct made him the victim of reverse discrimination. The suit seeks lost wages and benefits, unspecified damages, attorneys’ fees, and a declaration from the city that it engaged in retaliatory conduct and violated his civil rights.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Illinois EEOC discrimination complaints up sharply in 2011
- Work environment: There's ugly and then there's biased
- Employers, employees affected as Illinois adopts smoking ban
- Do your best to promote workplace civility, but don't sweat faux pas that weren't meant to offend