Valley Fire Captain Sues Over Withdrawn Promotion

A Spokane Valley Fire District captain has sued the district, claiming that last year his supervisors conspired to deny him a promotion he deserved.

John Frederick filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Spokane on Dec. 21.

Frederick claims his civil rights were purposely violated by former Chief Rod Tedrow, then assistant chief Karl Bold and paramedic coordinator Larry Herberholz early in 1994.

The three did not want him to ascend to a vacant battalion chief position and violated state and federal law when they worked together to make sure it didn’t happen, the suit states.

The district’s attorney, Paul Allison, said Frederick’s claim that the three didn’t want him to have the promotion is true, but that the district was justified in its actions.

“The administration did not feel that Mr. Frederick was prepared to be the battalion chief, for some very valid reasons,” said Allison. “They thought it was in the best interest of the fire district and Mr. Frederick that he not be appointed.”

Frederick wants a judge to appoint him battalion chief and to force the district to pay him about $4,000 in additional pay he would have received if he were a battalion chief.

Frederick still works for the district as a captain. He could not be reached for comment.

The dispute arose in January 1994 when former Battalion Chief Donald Hand announced his retirement.

According to the lawsuit, Frederick topped the district’s list of employees who were in line to be promoted to Hand’s position.

By law, the person who heads the list, which is determined through seniority and testing, must be promoted when a position opens.

Tedrow, Bold and Herberholz asked Hand to delay his retirement until the promotions list topped by Frederick expired, the suit states.

Hand refused, and the district was forced to appoint Frederick to the position on a six-month trial basis, as required by civil service procedure, said Frederick’s attorney, Barry Ryan.

Frederick claims in the suit that he received only two evaluations during the probation when district regulations require three.

Also, he claims Bold, who replaced Tedrow when he retired last summer, performed both reviews when the rules call for at least two different people to evaluate him.

The district determined that Frederick had failed his probationary period, and he was demoted back to captain.

“This, despite the fact that neither of the two evaluations done by Bold even hinted that (Frederick’s) performance was less than satisfactory,” the suit states.

Allison said Frederick did receive three evaluations, the two during the probation and the final one when he was demoted.

As far as Bold being the only person to evaluate Frederick’s progress, Allison said there were only two people who could have done it: Bold or Tedrow.

“The chief (Tedrow) assigned it to Bold,” Allison said. “There wasn’t anybody else.”

The lawsuit was expected, he added.

“It’s been threatened for some time,” Allison said. “He had appealed to the Civil Service Board, but then he withdrew his appeal and said we’d be hearing from him again, in court.”

Frederick has requested a jury trial.

Tags: lawsuit

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