Fourteen white Prince George's County firefighter trainees, dismissed from class after an "administrative error" was discovered this week, filed suit yesterday charging the county with "reverse discrimination because of their race."
Circuit Court Judge Vincent J. Femia denied their request for a temporary order blocking the dismissals and set a hearing date for Feb. 2 on a request for a permanent injunction.
The suit was filed after the 14 men were dropped from the current recruiting class of 22. County Executive Winfield Kelly said the men would be replaced by employees from the Comprehensive Employment Training Art (CETA) program, a federally funded program for unemployed, mainly minority, persons.
Although Kelly offered the men positions with similar pay in the cortions department, the firefighters say in the suit that they lost their jobs because each "was of the Caucasian race."
County officials say no "adverse action has been taken against the men. They have been transferred to another assignment. We have a strong defense in the case because the men have been guaranteed jobs. This is just the county's way, through administrative processes, of moving people place to another."
The firefighters, many of whom moved back to Prince George's and quit other jobs to attend the classes, contend that the Act expressly provides that "no regularly employed person may be discharged to provide room for CETA employees."
"This is just Kelly's way of having a racially mixed class," said one trainee.