A U.S. Marine veteran rejected for a firefighter job for failing to clear a psychological evaluation has filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination.
Brett D’Alessandro of Verona alleges the city violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination for failing to offer him a job. He came in third place on the list of eligible candidates after taking the New Jersey Civil Service Commission firefighter examination, according to his complaint filed on Dec. 11.
D’Alessandro had to undergo a fitness for duty evaluation at the Institute for Forensic Psychology before he could be appointed, municipal officials told him. He was examined on Jul. 12, 2017, according to the lawsuit.
Deputy fire chief Kevin Hancock told him “that he was determined to be psychologically unfit for the position as firefighter” and his name would be removed from the eligible list of candidates. The lawsuit suggests D’Alessandro could not clear the evaluation due to his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis.
D’Alessandro was diagnosed with the disorder in connection with his military service. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Afghanistan, says the lawsuit. Despite his PTSD, a military medical board determined his condition does not bar him from performing his military duties. He provided the board’s assessment to the Institute for Forensic Psychology.
“Stereotyping of veterans with PTSD as unable to perform the essential functions of the job as Firefighter is precisely what the NJLAD is designed to prohibit,” says the lawsuit.
D’Alessandro was never provided a copy of the evaluation that determined he was not fit for duty, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit names the city, several municipal officials, and the Institute for Forensic Psychology.
D’Alessandro is seeking unspecified amounts in damages and injunctive relief for the city’s alleged “discrimination and retaliation.”