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Firefighter Claims Racial, Age Bias

A black firefighter in Houston has filed an age and race discrimination lawsuit against his department. The lawsuit also alleges that the Houston Fire Department retaliated against him for complaining about the bias.

The 69-year-old firefighter claims in his lawsuit that he was given low performance rankings in an attempt to thwart his ultimate ambition of becoming the first black Fire Chief of the Houston Fire Department.

Charles Julian has worked for the Houston fire Department since 1968, and in 1994, he became a district chief. However, since 1989, Julian has found his ambitions blocked at every level. His attempts to apply for higher-level positions have been unsuccessful.

According to his lawyers, since 1984, Julian has been unable to break the glass ceiling at his workplace. In response, he has filed a number of lawsuits against the department, and in return, the department has been retaliating against him, demoting him and keeping him away from better job opportunities.

In 1999, he sued the Houston Fire Department. In that lawsuit, he claimed that a former fire Department chief had told him that he was too old to be promoted to a higher position. In that case, a federal jury found in his favor, and awarded him $109,202. After another lawsuit that reached a settlement, Julian was finally given a promotion to assistant chief. In that case, he also received a settlement of $213,000 in front and back pay.

He filed another lawsuit in 2006 after he received what he claimed were the lowest performance ratings of his career, which he blamed on demotion as a result of his previous lawsuit. In 2008, he settled that lawsuit for about $140,000. In this latest lawsuit, he claims that the fire Department has blocked his efforts at promotions in retaliation for his earlier lawsuits.

Under California laws, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who have complained about bias. Such retaliation can include demotion, suspension, or termination of the employee. If you are being subjected to retaliation in the workplace, consult with an experienced California employment lawyer.