Report backs firefighter in discrimination case

A veteran Augusta firefighter said he was passed over for a promotion because he is black, and the city's Equal Employment Opportunity Office agreed.


Lt. William Dickerson filed a February complaint with the EEO office saying that Fire Chief Howard Willis promoted some white firefighters from an expired list of qualified candidates while denying him a promotion to captain because his name was on an expired list.

Fire department policy states that tests for promotions will be given every two years, with lists of qualified candidates to be valid for two years, according to a report of findings by EEO Director Jacqueline Humphreys on the complaint.

A firefighter since 1987, Dickerson was honored as Augusta's 2009 Firefighter of the Year for his efforts to save the life of fellow firefighter Jay Jones, who was seriously injured by a flailing water cannon during the 2008 blaze that gutted Southern Milling on Twiggs Street, according to Augusta Chronicle archives.

In her March 31 investigative report, Humphreys found that Willis promoted several fire lieutenants from an expired list during the same period that Dickerson was denied a promotion.

"There was no explanation as to why the promotion list was extended for other applicants who are white," she wrote, recommending that Dickerson be promoted to captain.

Administrator Fred Russell said an internal hearing on Dickerson's grievance was about to be held and that he will make a final determination on the validity of Humphreys' findings.

Read the EEO report