Rockland firefighter discrimination cases moving forward after appeal

BOSTON — Rockland’s only Black firefighter filed his appeal of a 30-day suspension on time, even though it was received by the state’s civil service commission without a postmark, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled last week.

The Civil Service Commission overturned the suspension of Lt. Craig Erickson in 2018, saying the town did not have enough evidence to suspend him, which led to the appeal on timeliness grounds.

Civil Service Commission Chairman Christopher Bowman said in the decision that it was a “stark and troubling example of disparate treatment” for a firefighter whose son served on the select board and on the fire station building committee to face no discipline for insubordination.

Rockland initially appealed the civil service decision to the superior court on the grounds that Erickson’s appeal was not filed on time. The judge in that case found it was.

More:Read the Appeals Court decision

The town then went to the appeals court which, again, held that Erickson had filed his appeal within the 10-day deadline and that the Civil Service Commission could get its own rules of how late to accept appeals when a postmark is missing.

Erickson said in a telephone interview that the appeal was frivilous and cost the town an estimated $80,000.

Firefighters position a ladder against a three-story housing complex that burned in January 2020 in Rockland. One woman was rescue from the building by Rockland firefighters.

In a separate case, stemming from when the town fired Erickson in 2017, the Civil Service Commission ordered Erickson be reinstated after finding that he violated the sick leave policy but did not deserve to be fired, instead offering a 90-day suspension and a demotion.

September 2020:Rockland appeals reinstatement of firefighter

May 2020:Civil service commission rules in Rockland firefighter’s discrimination case

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