Former firefighter sues, claims he was fired for age and weight

By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

A former Warrenton firefighter who lost his job after allegedly being involved in an off-duty fight is suing Warrenton Fire Protection District for wrongful termination.

Lawyers for Anthony Bailey, a six-year employee of the fire district, say district leaders used an accusation of misconduct as a pretext to fire Bailey for being too old and overweight. Attorneys filed the lawsuit March 3 in Warren County Circuit Court, alleging unlawful employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation after Bailey objected to some of the district’s policies.

Bailey is suing for lost wages and loss of other benefits, as well as other employment-related harms and attorney’s fees. Bailey is also asking the court to assess a punitive fine against the fire district.

Bailey was arrested by Warrenton police in October 2019 on suspicion of assault, according to a weekly arrest report published at the time by the Warren County Sheriff’s Department. Bailey was photographed at the county jail after the altercation, with half of his shirt appearing to have been ripped off. However, details about the altercation were never released because Bailey was never charged with a crime.

Bailey’s attorneys say the fire district used this incident to terminate him, citing "actions unbecoming of a firefighter."

“In contrast ... Warrenton Fire Protection District did not terminate, suspend or discipline other employees and volunteers ... who were charged with crimes, including driving while intoxicated, assault and poaching,” the lawsuit claims.

Bailey alleges that the real reason he was fired is because of his age (he was 49 at the time) and because of discriminatory fitness policies that he says weren’t related to the performance of his duties. Bailey claims supervisors made discriminatory statements about his age and weight, and that his firing followed his complaints about the treatment.

The lawsuit states that Bailey asked the firefighters’ union to dispute his termination, and that the union sided with him in the dispute. Bailey claims to have turned down an offer of reinstatement from the district because he did not wish to return to a hostile environment.

Warrenton Fire Chief Anthony Hayeslip declined to comment on the lawsuit because it is a legal matter. Fire district documents requested by The Record confirm Bailey was terminated by the fire district's board of directors in December 2019 for conduct unbecoming of a firefighter.

Bailey is being represented by attorneys Joan M. Swartz of Maplewood and Ryan S. Shaughnessy of O’Fallon, Ill. An attorney is not yet listed for Warrenton Fire Protection District.

 

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