Firefighter files racial discrimination lawsuit against Belleville

A black man who has worked as a Belleville firefighter has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in federal court alleging the city of Belleville did not give him the same type of settlement in a workers’ compensation case as one received by a white firefighter.

Larry Horne, 56, alleges the city refused to allow him to use accumulated sick leave to supplement his workers’ compensation benefit during his absence from work, but allowed another firefighter, who is white, to use accumulated sick leave during the same time period that this privilege was denied to Horne, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

City Attorney Garrett Hoerner said he could not comment on the lawsuit because the city had not been served yet with the suit.

Neither Horne nor his attorney, Thomas Duda of Palatine, could be reached for comment.

Horne’s current status with the city was not available.

Horne was injured Feb. 9, 2014, when he was carrying a fire hose up a hill in the snow. In December 2014, he had surgery on his left shoulder, according to his lawsuit.

Before filing the lawsuit, Horne filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This agency said it was unable to determine whether a violation of civil rights statutes had occurred but it said Horne had the right to file a lawsuit.

Horne “has suffered financial injury and a loss of employment benefits made otherwise available to white employees,” according to the suit.

The lawsuit asks a judge to order the city to compensate Horne but it doesn’t list an amount he is seeking. The suit also wants a judge to order Belleville to institute policies that provide equal employment opportunities for African-American employees.

Horne was hired by the city in April 1989, according to an Illinois Department of Human Rights complaint form attached to his lawsuit.