Firefighter Applicant Claims Discrimination

January 3, 2006
By DON STACOM, Courant Staff Writer

BRISTOL CT -- A veteran New Britain firefighter has filed an age discrimination complaint against Bristol, saying the city refused to hire him because he is 50.

Timothy Callanan is pursuing a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities that claims he was passed over despite being qualified.

Callanan, a Bristol resident, has been a New Britain firefighter for 22 years and has repeatedly received positive job evaluations, according to a complaint filed in mid-December by his attorney, James Ferguson.

City officials received the complaint shortly before Christmas and are required to file a response later this month. Personnel director Diane Ferguson was on vacation and unavailable for comment, and Fire Chief Jon Pose said he was unfamiliar with the matter.

"I have no knowledge of it. But I'm not involved in the hiring or firing process," Pose said.

New Britain Fire Chief Mark Carr did not comment about Callanan's complaint, but said, "He's a good officer."

Callanan, who turns 51 next month, applied to become a Bristol firefighter in 2003. After taking written, oral and physical agility exams, he ranked 16th on a hiring list of 54 applicants, according to his complaint.

The city hired 16 firefighters during the two years that the hiring list was in effect, selecting several candidates who ranked below the 16th position, according to the complaint. The applicant who ranked in the 48th position was hired, but Callanan was not, the complaint says.

"The city of Bristol has refused to hire me based upon my age," Callanan states in the complaint.

Cheryl Sharp, regional manager of the rights commission's Waterbury office, has directed the city to provide documentation about its hiring and selection process, including the resumes of all 54 applicants and an explanation of why others were selected and Callanan was not.