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Fire Department Dispatcher Sues for Discrimination

Arthur Franklin Kirk III is asking for $3 million in damages, back pay

A Baltimore City Fire Department dispatcher, the 41-year-old son of a late Baltimore politician, has sued the department for discrimination and retaliation, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Aug. 8.

The dispatcher, Arthur Franklin Kirk III, is asking for $3 million in damages, back pay, in addition to being returned to his job, according to the lawsuit—though Kirk III told City Paper he still works for the department. That was the only thing Kirk III said about the case, citing his concerns about the department’s policy on employees talking to the media.

Kirk III’s mother was state Del. Ruth Kirk (D-Baltimore City), who was 81 when she passed away last year. She and her husband, Arthur Kirk Jr., posted two properties in West Baltimore in 1994 to secure their son’s appearance on drug-dealing charges brought by a city grand jury. Kirk III pleaded guilty in 1995 and was given an eight-year suspended sentence, with four years of probation, according to online court records.

Open Baltimore, the city’s government-data clearinghouse, shows that Kirk III was hired by BCFD in Oct. 2001—about two years after his probation ended on the drug-dealing conviction—and as of May 2011, his gross pay was $59,465.76, bolstered with $14,479.76 in surplus pay. As of June 2012, his gross pay was $60,196.92, including a surplus of $12,720.92.

Neal Janey, who is representing Kirk III in the BCFD lawsuit, characterized the complaint as “pretty straightforward,” saying it raises issues about “how he’s been treated with respect to assignments, discipline, and retaliation” by the department since he filed charges of racial discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit, which is spare on details and dates, says the EEOC issued a “right to sue” letter after its investigation, since it declined to initiate its own enforcement action over the matter.

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