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EMT applicant with criminal record files age discrimination lawsuit

He claims he did not get a job as a firefighter/EMT due to his age; he also disclosed felony criminal convictions that stem from a massive burglary ring

By W. Zachary Malinowski
The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Cranston man with an extensive criminal record has filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that he was a victim of age discrimination when he tried to join the Central Falls Fire Department two years ago.

Richard A. Hartley Jr. was 44 on Feb. 2, 2012, when he submitted an application to become a firefighter/emergency medical technician, and the lawsuit states he "was a well-qualified candidate for the position."

He has sued the City of Central Falls through its treasurer, Cynthia DeJesus, and he is demanding a jury trial.

The lawsuit states that the city allowed him to forgo the required examinations and he was placed on the "so-called lateral transfer list based on his certifications and experience."

Hartley claims that he disclosed to the city that he had felony criminal convictions from nearly 20 years ago.

Turns out he has a lengthy criminal past, including 19 arrests dating to 1986.

In February 1991, a Superior Court jury found him guilty of a robbery in Cranston, and he was sentenced to 15 years in the Adult Correctional Institutions -- 8 years to serve and 7 years suspended.

Eight years later, in April 1999, Hartley pleaded guilty to dozens of felony charges of racketeering, conspiracy, attempted breaking and entering, breaking and entering and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years in the ACI. He also has a 1986 conviction of carrying a pistol without a license.

Former state police Supt. Brendan P. Doherty said that Hartley was part of a massive burglary ring that broke into scores of homes across Rhode Island in the '90s. In his lawsuit, Hartley claims that on Feb. 28, 2012, a hiring panel in Central Falls interviewed him and posed "age-related questions," including, based on his age, "he would purportedly be unable to fulfill the requirements for a vested pension."

Hartley states in the lawsuit that another candidate for the Fire Department, Robert Howe, was asked similar questions during the round of interviews. He was about 40 years old, the lawsuit states.

Following the questioning, Hartley claims that he did not make the final list of the top 10 most-qualified candidates and would not be offered a job in the Fire Department. He said that he was ranked 15{+t}{+h} out of 21 candidates.

In September 2012, Hartley alleged that rumors were circulating within the Fire Department "that he did not place higher on the list and was not going to be hired due to his age."

He states in the lawsuit that he met with then-Fire Chief John Garvey, who told him that the pension fund receives more "contributions and investment earnings from younger hires."

Garvey allegedly told Hartley that the decision was made "by downtown."

At the time, Central Falls had just emerged from federal bankruptcy, and the city was trying to bolster its pension fund for firefighters, police officers and municipal workers.

Richard A. Sinapi, Hartley's lawyer, said in the lawsuit that Joseph Matarese, then-acting human resources director in Central Falls, said that Hartley was "an ideal candidate" to become a Central Falls firefighter/EMT, based on his background, training and licensing, despite his criminal past.

Sinapi also wrote that the city routinely hires firefighters who fail to qualify with the proper height and weight. The minimum height and weight is 5 feet, 6 inches and at least 145 pounds. He said three firefighters hired did not make the height or weight minimums.

He also claims that the city has hired three firefighters with criminal records even though the City Code states that "any person who has been convicted of a crime shall be ineligible for appointment to the fire division."

"Accordingly, the City Code restrictions and requirements on hiring are ignored by the City when convenient to do so," Sinapi wrote.

———

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
©2014 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)

Comments
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George Yaworski George Yaworski Friday, July 25, 2014 6:04:55 AM Yeah, no, Police Record Check with Vulnerable Sector screening positive hits means NO JOB FOR YOU. Right at the beginning this would have excluded him, 44, not an issue unless he is physically unable to perform the duties of the position.

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