Saturday, August 25, 2007

Firefighters resolve tiff

CANTON A city firefighter and the captain he accused of creating a racially hostile workplace have agreed to put their differences to rest.

The city also is ready to begin its most comprehensive diversity training, which will be mandatory for all firefighters and could lead to more training in other city departments.

Phillip Strickland, a firefighter since 1995, sued the city June 18, accusing Capt. Mike Richmond of creating a hostile environment in September when he used "a tone filled with racial animus and hostility" during an argument about the handling of a fire.

Strickland said the department didn't reprimand Richmond for his remark, and the environment created stress that caused Strickland to score low on a test for promotion to captain.

The city, however, said Richmond, who denied any racial motivations, was disciplined.

Strickland's complaint asked for back pay, punitive damages, attorney fees and costs in excess of $200,000.

He agreed to meet Richmond for a mediation session, where they resolved their differences after four hours.

In a memorandum of understanding signed by Strickland and Richmond on Wednesday, they acknowledged the fight "was disrespectful on both sides."

"We mutually and respectfully resolved our differences and want this to be a positive example for our Fire Department and the Community," the memorandum said.

Canton Assistant Law Director Kris Bates believes the resolution is a "wonderful commentary on what mediation can do and what communication between people can do. ... It's way better to craft your own solution than to have court craft it for you."

Strickland, in an e-mail to The Repository, said he instructed his attorney to drop all legal action.

Source: CantonRep

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