Firefighters win workplace dispute with City of Amarillo

Amarillo firefighters prevailed in a long-running legal dispute over the civil service status of employees in the city fire marshal’s office, the Amarillo Professional Firefighters Association said today.

The Texas Supreme Court this week denied a City of Amarillo appeal of the firefighters’ lower court win which held that firefighter positions in the city fire marshal’s office should be subject to civil service classification under Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code, the state law that covers workplace issues in the fire service.

The dispute began in 2015 after Amarillo firefighters Nathan Sloan Nurek and Brandon Stennett alleged they were passed over for promotions in violation of state law. The city won the initial round of the legal proceedings, but then sought attorneys’ fees from the firefighters. The Court of Appeals of the Seventh District of Texas at Amarillo reversed the city’s win, and that ruling was appealed to the Texas Supreme Court by the city.

Todd Peden, president of the Amarillo Professional Firefighters Association, said, “After six years of litigation, Amarillo firefighters are thankful that Lt. Stennett’s concerns were heard and ultimately justified by our civil service system and the Texas courts. This ruling will help formalize this specific fire service expertise within the Amarillo Fire Department. Amarillo firefighters thank all the individuals that helped accomplish this legal win, including the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters.”

The case is City of Amarillo, Texas v. Nathan Sloan Nurek and Michael Brandon Stennett, in the Court of Appeals, Seventh District of Texas at Amarillo, on appeal from County Court of Law No. 2, Potter County, Texas, Trial Court No. 105821-2.

Peden added, “Amarillo firefighters deliver excellent service, we’re good stewards of city resources, and we give back to the community. The Texas Supreme Court’s denial of the city’s appeal allows us to refocus on our commitments to the community and further strengthen the fire department. We are hopeful the city will resolve this issue without requiring more litigation. We’re ready to help find a better path forward.”

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