Depositions set in firefighter lawsuit

By: 
STEVE ROGERS
Staff Writer

Depositions are scheduled for late next month in a firefighter’s lawsuit claiming the city of West Point racially discriminated against him when it failed to hire him last August.

But barring some changes, the case won’t go to trial until December 2020, according to the latest federal court documents in Dylan Davis’ federal claim against the city.

Davis filed suit late last year alleging he was the most qualified candidate when the city hired three firefighters in August 2018, but he was passed over in favor of two less-qualified African-Americans and another white — Davis is white — because of reverse discrimination on the part of the Board of Selectmen.

In particular, Davis, who lives in Pheba, cites comments made by Selectman Jasper Pittman who suggested the city should make race a deciding factor in hiring until some departments better reflected the community’s racial makeup.

Selectmen and other city leaders are scheduled to be deposed Aug. 29 and Davis is scheduled for Aug. 30, according to court records.

Settlement discussions between the two sides failed in early February and on March 27, selectmen voted unanimously, at City Attorney Orlando Richmond’s suggestion, to offer Davis a job.

A letter was sent to him the same day but after a week, Davis’ attorney, Jim Waide, of Tupelo, said his client no longer was interested in the position.

Another settlement conference is scheduled for Nov. 6, 2019, which is three days before both sides are to have completed their fact-finding, according to the trial management schedule.

The trial is set for Dec. 7, 2020.

In its response to the lawsuit, the city claims any claims to back wages by Davis are limited to the period between Aug. 18, when the city hired the other three firefighters, none of who were certified while Davis was certified, and March 27, when the city offered him the job.

Furthermore, he suffered only at most only “a few cents and hour” because he continued to work as a firefighter in Starkville and Grenada, the city argues in its response.

Furthermore, the response argues the city’s decisions had nothing to do with race and that Davis could have “mitigated” any damages by taking the job in March.

“The city’s decisions “were actions taken in good faith and for legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons,” the city’s response claims.

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