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Volunteer fireman, dismissed because of earlier suspension, cannot base claim on suspension being a violation of WPA

Gary Purcell sued the Tompkins and Rives Townships, and their Fire Department, arguing that he was illegally terminated as a volunteer firefighter.  He claimed that he was terminated in 2008 because he had been suspended previously, in 1997, and that the  1997 suspension violated the Whistleblower Protection Act.  The Townships acknowledged that the prior suspension was a major factor in the termination but argued that allowing Purcell to sue would violate the 90-day statute of limitations in the WPA.

While acts occurring outside the 90-day window can be used to prove a pattern of discrimination, the  Court of Appeals judges ruled that "if an act has a discriminatory effect only because of a prior discriminatory act, the later act cannot sustain a cause of action"...and the earlier violation was too old to allow a current lawsuit.  So Purcell needed to sue at the time of the illegal suspension, rather than waiting until it caused his termination.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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