A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against Haines City, Fla., brought by a firefighter who claimed he was fired after 19 years on the job in retaliation for seeking workers’ compensation.
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida on Tuesday granted summary judgment to Haines City in a lawsuit brought by former firefighter William Valencia.
Mr. Valencia sued in state court in October 2020, six months after his firing, alleging retaliation under the state workers’ compensation law.
The case was later removed to federal court after an amended complaint added alleged violations of federal law.
Mr Valencia claimed that his dismissal was pretextual, and that the real justification was that he was looking for workers after experiencing work-related stress that left him suffering from problems such as high blood pressure and anxiety.
The city argued that the firing was proper and actually related to job performance. It argued that Mr. Valencia could not prove a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the points in the lawsuit.
In granting summary judgment, the court found that the City offered “legitimate non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for its conduct,”; and that Mr. Valencia failed to prove that his dismissal was based on reasons other than work performance.
The city said Valencia was fired for job-related issues such as improper use of a department purchase card, failing to submit information on time, failing to attend an exercise class and other issues.