Former fire chief sues City of Murfreesboro over racial discrimination

Posted at 10:56 PM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 23:56:27-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — A former Murfreesboro fire chief is suing the city in federal court, alleging he was forced to give up his job.

Theodore Pertiller had been with the department for 29 years when he resigned from his position after a disciplinary hearing in June.

According to the lawsuit, a Battallion Chief changed his schedule from overtime to duty exchange, which would result in him not getting compensated for the overtime he worked.

In January 2019, Pertiller said he received disciplinary action for an incident that happened months ago on August 17, 2018. During the event, the lawsuit says Pertiller missed a dispatch while he was testing fire hydrants, which is a requirement of his position. When he noticed the call, he checked in with dispatch and was told the call had already been cleared.

Pertiller then made a complaint to the city's human resources department about both the time card alteration and the disciplinary action. The lawsuit says Pertiller thinks he was targeted because he is black.

The human resources department agreed with his claims that there was no reason to delay the disciplinary action by several months, and those findings were then presented to the fire chief.

However, one other incident led Pertiller to believe the department was retaliating against him, the lawsuit explains. In May, Pertiller and a few others were "out of service" during a training, per the department's procedure. But after the training finished, Pertiller waited to be back in the department's territory before returning to service.

For this, Pertiller was handed another disciplinary action.

The lawsuit says during the disciplinary hearing in June, Pertiller was told he could resign or be fired, but if he were fired he would lose $400,000 in retirement funds.

Pertiller is suing for back pay, future wages, liquidated damages, compensatory damages and attorney fees and costs.