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Crime & Courts

Peru responds to firefighter’s discrimination suit

The city of Peru has responded to a former firefighter’s federal discrimination suit against the city, saying far from harassing the firefighter, city officials “went out of their way” to accommodate him.

Rodney Perez filed suit Jan. 30 in federal district court in Chicago, alleging he was harassed by fellow firefighters, because of his Mexican heritage. Perez was a part-time firefighter from 2006 until he quit in 2017.

Perez also alleged officials retaliated against him after he complained. Later, Perez became an alderman and then ran for mayor, but lost. Perez claimed he also suffered retaliation for his political activities.

Soon after the suit was lodged, the city denied the allegations in a written statement. On Tuesday, the city filed a court motion to dismiss the suit, saying Perez did not provide enough detail on the alleged harassment, but regardless, Perez did not claim he was ever threatened or he was prevented from doing his job.

In fact, Fire Chief Jeff King and other city officials “went out of their way” to give Perez time off to run for office and to return to work afterward, despite Perez having been “antagonistic” to Mayor Scott Harl and having filed a complaint against King, the city said.

The city further claimed part of the suit was filed after the two-year statute of limitations expired. Also, the city pointed out Perez named Harl as a defendant who retaliated against him, but made no specific allegations against Harl. As a consequence, Harl should be dropped from the suit, according to the city.

A court hearing is Monday, April 23. The city is defended by the Chicago firm of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins. Perez is represented by the Chicago firm of Robinson Curley.

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