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Pittsfield Firefighter Sues City Over Promotion

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The U.S. Justice Department has filed a complaint against the city claiming officials had violated federal laws when firefighter Jeffrey Rawson was denied a promotion because he missed work while serving in the Navy Reserve.

Rawson, backed by the Justice Department, is suing for retroactive back pay, benefits, seniority and the promotion that he would have received if he had gotten a lieutenant job in September 2010. The lawsuit states Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski cited absenteeism as the reason for denying the promotion and giving the promotion to the firefighter who scored just below Rawson on a November 2009 promotion test.

"No servicemember should be prevented from advancing in his or her civil career because of military duties," Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez said in a press release on Wednesday. "The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the rights of those who, through their bravery and sacrifice, secure the rights of all Americans."

According to media reports, Rawson was called to active military duty from October 2007 until November 2008, from February to June 2009 and from July to September of 2009 and the promoted firefighter had an "exemplary work record with minimal use of sick leave." Rawson claims the city violated federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against military reservists.

Additionally, Rawson claims the city refused to reinstate him on the promotion list after he complained to the U.S. Labor Department’s Veterans Employment and Training Service.
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