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Lawsuit filed by fired firefighter dismissed


A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against Haines City, Florida, that was initiated by a firefighter who claimed he was fired after 19 years on the job in retaliation for seeking workers compensation accommodations.  

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida on Tuesday granted summary judgment to Haines City in a case brought by former firefighter William Valencia.

Mr. Valencia sued in state court in October 2020, six months after his firing, alleging retaliation under the state’s workers compensation law.

The case was later removed to federal court after an amended complaint added alleged federal law violations.  

Mr. Valencia argued his firing was pretextual, and that the real justification was his seeking workers comp after experiencing job-related stresses that caused him to suffer from issues such as high blood pressure and anxiety.

The city contended the firing was proper and actually related to job performance. It asserted Mr. Valencia failed to prove a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the counts in the suit.  

In granting summary judgment, the court found the city offered “legitimate non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for its conduct,” and that Mr. Valencia failed to prove that his firing was for reasons other than job performance.

The city said Mr. Valencia was fired for job-related issues such as improper use of a department purchasing card, failing to turn in assignments on time, failing to attend a training class and other issues.