Ex-Firefighter Takes Case To Court

Claim of wrongful termination made

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A dispute between the Pine Strawberry Fire Board and a former firefighter who was allegedly wrongfully terminated is headed to court after an attempt to reach a settlement failed last week.

Mark Boys, a 12-year veteran paramedic and firefighter with the PSFD, was fired in January 2005 after counseling a co-worker about alleged sexual harassment by fire chief Bill Dekker.

In turn, Boys is suing the board for federal civil rights violations, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In August 2005, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined that Boys' claim of a federal civil rights violation by the PSFB was grounded.

Boys and his attorney, Stanley Lubin, met with Pine Strawberry Fire Board member Forrest McCoy and an attorney representing the board's insurance company on July 25.

The attempted mediation was presided over by a retired Arizona Superior Court judge, in conjunction with the U.S. District Court, in an effort to avoid a jury trial.

Boys said that a settlement could not be agreed upon and that the board's highest offer was $45,000, which was $90,000 less than what Boys and his attorney were seeking.

"It barely would've covered my attorney fees and would not have addressed my lost wages or any general damages," Boys said.

Because the mediation efforts failed, a jury trial will take place in U.S. District Court. A trial date has yet to be set, but Boys said that it will likely start within a year.

Boys said that because attorney fees will likely triple by the end of the trial, the damages that he is seeking will also likely increase.

"They could run considerably higher than original demands," Boys said.

Boys added that he was never given due process in relation to his termination, which might have prevented the whole legal debacle.

"I would like accountability of Dekker and the board, who have ignored the human aspect and violated rights," he said.

"It's very disheartening that they're so uncaring of their greatest asset -- firefighters. They totally botched my termination process."

Board member Forrest McCoy said he had no comment to make.

Calls to the fire board's attorney were not returned by press time.

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